Get our free extension to see links to code for papers anywhere online!Free add-on: code for papers everywhere!Free add-on: See code for papers anywhere!

Figures and Tables:

Abstract:Offline model-based reinforcement learning (MBRL) enhances data efficiency by utilizing pre-collected datasets to learn models and policies, especially in scenarios where exploration is costly or infeasible. Nevertheless, its performance often suffers from the objective mismatch between model and policy learning, resulting in inferior performance despite accurate model predictions. This paper first identifies the primary source of this mismatch comes from the underlying confounders present in offline data for MBRL. Subsequently, we introduce \textbf{B}ilin\textbf{E}ar \textbf{CAUS}al r\textbf{E}presentation~(BECAUSE), an algorithm to capture causal representation for both states and actions to reduce the influence of the distribution shift, thus mitigating the objective mismatch problem. Comprehensive evaluations on 18 tasks that vary in data quality and environment context demonstrate the superior performance of BECAUSE over existing offline RL algorithms. We show the generalizability and robustness of BECAUSE under fewer samples or larger numbers of confounders. Additionally, we offer theoretical analysis of BECAUSE to prove its error bound and sample efficiency when integrating causal representation into offline MBRL.

Via

Figures and Tables:

Abstract:We study the problem of Distributionally Robust Constrained RL (DRC-RL), where the goal is to maximize the expected reward subject to environmental distribution shifts and constraints. This setting captures situations where training and testing environments differ, and policies must satisfy constraints motivated by safety or limited budgets. Despite significant progress toward algorithm design for the separate problems of distributionally robust RL and constrained RL, there do not yet exist algorithms with end-to-end convergence guarantees for DRC-RL. We develop an algorithmic framework based on strong duality that enables the first efficient and provable solution in a class of environmental uncertainties. Further, our framework exposes an inherent structure of DRC-RL that arises from the combination of distributional robustness and constraints, which prevents a popular class of iterative methods from tractably solving DRC-RL, despite such frameworks being applicable for each of distributionally robust RL and constrained RL individually. Finally, we conduct experiments on a car racing benchmark to evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed algorithm.

Via

Abstract:A significant roadblock to the development of principled multi-agent reinforcement learning is the fact that desired solution concepts like Nash equilibria may be intractable to compute. To overcome this obstacle, we take inspiration from behavioral economics and show that -- by imbuing agents with important features of human decision-making like risk aversion and bounded rationality -- a class of risk-averse quantal response equilibria (RQE) become tractable to compute in all $n$-player matrix and finite-horizon Markov games. In particular, we show that they emerge as the endpoint of no-regret learning in suitably adjusted versions of the games. Crucially, the class of computationally tractable RQE is independent of the underlying game structure and only depends on agents' degree of risk-aversion and bounded rationality. To validate the richness of this class of solution concepts we show that it captures peoples' patterns of play in a number of 2-player matrix games previously studied in experimental economics. Furthermore, we give a first analysis of the sample complexity of computing these equilibria in finite-horizon Markov games when one has access to a generative model and validate our findings on a simple multi-agent reinforcement learning benchmark.

Via

Figures and Tables:

Abstract:Safe reinforcement learning (RL) is crucial for deploying RL agents in real-world applications, as it aims to maximize long-term rewards while satisfying safety constraints. However, safe RL often suffers from sample inefficiency, requiring extensive interactions with the environment to learn a safe policy. We propose Efficient Safe Policy Optimization (ESPO), a novel approach that enhances the efficiency of safe RL through sample manipulation. ESPO employs an optimization framework with three modes: maximizing rewards, minimizing costs, and balancing the trade-off between the two. By dynamically adjusting the sampling process based on the observed conflict between reward and safety gradients, ESPO theoretically guarantees convergence, optimization stability, and improved sample complexity bounds. Experiments on the Safety-MuJoCo and Omnisafe benchmarks demonstrate that ESPO significantly outperforms existing primal-based and primal-dual-based baselines in terms of reward maximization and constraint satisfaction. Moreover, ESPO achieves substantial gains in sample efficiency, requiring 25--29% fewer samples than baselines, and reduces training time by 21--38%.

Via

Figures and Tables:

Abstract:To overcome the sim-to-real gap in reinforcement learning (RL), learned policies must maintain robustness against environmental uncertainties. While robust RL has been widely studied in single-agent regimes, in multi-agent environments, the problem remains understudied -- despite the fact that the problems posed by environmental uncertainties are often exacerbated by strategic interactions. This work focuses on learning in distributionally robust Markov games (RMGs), a robust variant of standard Markov games, wherein each agent aims to learn a policy that maximizes its own worst-case performance when the deployed environment deviates within its own prescribed uncertainty set. This results in a set of robust equilibrium strategies for all agents that align with classic notions of game-theoretic equilibria. Assuming a non-adaptive sampling mechanism from a generative model, we propose a sample-efficient model-based algorithm (DRNVI) with finite-sample complexity guarantees for learning robust variants of various notions of game-theoretic equilibria. We also establish an information-theoretic lower bound for solving RMGs, which confirms the near-optimal sample complexity of DRNVI with respect to problem-dependent factors such as the size of the state space, the target accuracy, and the horizon length.

Via

Figures and Tables:

Abstract:In offline reinforcement learning (RL), the absence of active exploration calls for attention on the model robustness to tackle the sim-to-real gap, where the discrepancy between the simulated and deployed environments can significantly undermine the performance of the learned policy. To endow the learned policy with robustness in a sample-efficient manner in the presence of high-dimensional state-action space, this paper considers the sample complexity of distributionally robust linear Markov decision processes (MDPs) with an uncertainty set characterized by the total variation distance using offline data. We develop a pessimistic model-based algorithm and establish its sample complexity bound under minimal data coverage assumptions, which outperforms prior art by at least $\tilde{O}(d)$, where $d$ is the feature dimension. We further improve the performance guarantee of the proposed algorithm by incorporating a carefully-designed variance estimator.

Via

Figures and Tables:

Abstract:Offline reinforcement learning (RL), which seeks to learn an optimal policy using offline data, has garnered significant interest due to its potential in critical applications where online data collection is infeasible or expensive. This work explores the benefit of federated learning for offline RL, aiming at collaboratively leveraging offline datasets at multiple agents. Focusing on finite-horizon episodic tabular Markov decision processes (MDPs), we design FedLCB-Q, a variant of the popular model-free Q-learning algorithm tailored for federated offline RL. FedLCB-Q updates local Q-functions at agents with novel learning rate schedules and aggregates them at a central server using importance averaging and a carefully designed pessimistic penalty term. Our sample complexity analysis reveals that, with appropriately chosen parameters and synchronization schedules, FedLCB-Q achieves linear speedup in terms of the number of agents without requiring high-quality datasets at individual agents, as long as the local datasets collectively cover the state-action space visited by the optimal policy, highlighting the power of collaboration in the federated setting. In fact, the sample complexity almost matches that of the single-agent counterpart, as if all the data are stored at a central location, up to polynomial factors of the horizon length. Furthermore, FedLCB-Q is communication-efficient, where the number of communication rounds is only linear with respect to the horizon length up to logarithmic factors.

Via

Figures and Tables:

Abstract:The core challenge of offline reinforcement learning (RL) is dealing with the (potentially catastrophic) extrapolation error induced by the distribution shift between the history dataset and the desired policy. A large portion of prior work tackles this challenge by implicitly/explicitly regularizing the learning policy towards the behavior policy, which is hard to estimate reliably in practice. In this work, we propose to regularize towards the Q-function of the behavior policy instead of the behavior policy itself, under the premise that the Q-function can be estimated more reliably and easily by a SARSA-style estimate and handles the extrapolation error more straightforwardly. We propose two algorithms taking advantage of the estimated Q-function through regularizations, and demonstrate they exhibit strong performance on the D4RL benchmarks.

Via

Figures and Tables:

Abstract:Robustness has been extensively studied in reinforcement learning (RL) to handle various forms of uncertainty such as random perturbations, rare events, and malicious attacks. In this work, we consider one critical type of robustness against spurious correlation, where different portions of the state do not have causality but have correlations induced by unobserved confounders. These spurious correlations are ubiquitous in real-world tasks, for instance, a self-driving car usually observes heavy traffic in the daytime and light traffic at night due to unobservable human activity. A model that learns such useless or even harmful correlation could catastrophically fail when the confounder in the test case deviates from the training one. Although motivated, enabling robustness against spurious correlation poses significant challenges since the uncertainty set, shaped by the unobserved confounder and sequential structure of RL, is difficult to characterize and identify. Existing robust algorithms that assume simple and unstructured uncertainty sets are therefore inadequate to address this challenge. To solve this issue, we propose Robust State-Confounded Markov Decision Processes (RSC-MDPs) and theoretically demonstrate its superiority in breaking spurious correlations compared with other robust RL counterparts. We also design an empirical algorithm to learn the robust optimal policy for RSC-MDPs, which outperforms all baselines in eight realistic self-driving and manipulation tasks.

Via

Figures and Tables:

Abstract:This paper investigates model robustness in reinforcement learning (RL) to reduce the sim-to-real gap in practice. We adopt the framework of distributionally robust Markov decision processes (RMDPs), aimed at learning a policy that optimizes the worst-case performance when the deployed environment falls within a prescribed uncertainty set around the nominal MDP. Despite recent efforts, the sample complexity of RMDPs remained mostly unsettled regardless of the uncertainty set in use. It was unclear if distributional robustness bears any statistical consequences when benchmarked against standard RL. Assuming access to a generative model that draws samples based on the nominal MDP, we characterize the sample complexity of RMDPs when the uncertainty set is specified via either the total variation (TV) distance or $\chi^2$ divergence. The algorithm studied here is a model-based method called {\em distributionally robust value iteration}, which is shown to be near-optimal for the full range of uncertainty levels. Somewhat surprisingly, our results uncover that RMDPs are not necessarily easier or harder to learn than standard MDPs. The statistical consequence incurred by the robustness requirement depends heavily on the size and shape of the uncertainty set: in the case w.r.t.~the TV distance, the minimax sample complexity of RMDPs is always smaller than that of standard MDPs; in the case w.r.t.~the $\chi^2$ divergence, the sample complexity of RMDPs can often far exceed the standard MDP counterpart.

Via