Keywords: Offline Reinforcement Learning, Batch Reinforcement Learning, Deep Reinforcement Learning, Online fine-tuning
TL;DR: Improving the performance of minimalist approaches to offline reinforcement learning and stabilising online fine-tuning
Abstract: The ability to discover optimal behaviour from fixed data sets has the potential to transfer the successes of reinforcement learning (RL) to domains where data collection is acutely problematic. In this offline setting, a key challenge is overcoming overestimation bias for actions not present in data which, without the ability to correct for via interaction with the environment, can propagate and compound during training, leading to highly sub-optimal policies. One simple method to reduce this bias is to introduce a policy constraint via behavioural cloning (BC), which encourages agents to pick actions closer to the source data. By finding the right balance between RL and BC such approaches have been shown to be surprisingly effective while requiring minimal changes to the underlying algorithms they are based on. To date this balance has been held constant, but in this work we explore the idea of tipping this balance towards RL following initial training. Using TD3-BC, we demonstrate that by continuing to train a policy offline while reducing the influence of the BC component we can produce refined policies that outperform the original baseline, as well as match or exceed the performance of more complex alternatives. Furthermore, we demonstrate such an approach can be used for stable online fine-tuning, allowing policies to be safely improved during deployment.