COMBO: Conservative Offline Model-Based Policy Optimization

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 (NeurIPS 2021)

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Tianhe Yu, Aviral Kumar, Rafael Rafailov, Aravind Rajeswaran, Sergey Levine, Chelsea Finn


Model-based reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms, which learn a dynamics model from logged experience and perform conservative planning under the learned model, have emerged as a promising paradigm for offline reinforcement learning (offline RL). However, practical variants of such model-based algorithms rely on explicit uncertainty quantification for incorporating conservatism. Uncertainty estimation with complex models, such as deep neural networks, can be difficult and unreliable. We empirically find that uncertainty estimation is not accurate and leads to poor performance in certain scenarios in offline model-based RL. We overcome this limitation by developing a new model-based offline RL algorithm, COMBO, that trains a value function using both the offline dataset and data generated using rollouts under the model while also additionally regularizing the value function on out-of-support state-action tuples generated via model rollouts. This results in a conservative estimate of the value function for out-of-support state-action tuples, without requiring explicit uncertainty estimation. Theoretically, we show that COMBO satisfies a policy improvement guarantee in the offline setting. Through extensive experiments, we find that COMBO attains greater performance compared to prior offline RL on problems that demand generalization to related but previously unseen tasks, and also consistently matches or outperforms prior offline RL methods on widely studied offline RL benchmarks, including image-based tasks.