Workshop: 3rd Offline Reinforcement Learning Workshop: Offline RL as a "Launchpad"

Confidence-Conditioned Value Functions for Offline Reinforcement Learning

Joey Hong · Aviral Kumar · Sergey Levine


Offline reinforcement learning (RL) promises the ability to learn effective policies solely using existing, static datasets, without any costly online interaction. To do so, offline RL methods must handle distributional shift between the dataset and the learned policy. The most common approach is to learn conservative, or lower-bound, value functions, which underestimate the return of out-of-distribution (OOD) actions. However, such methods exhibit one notable drawback: policies optimized on such value functions can only behave according to a fixed, possibly suboptimal, degree of conservatism. However, this can be alleviated if we instead are able to learn policies for varying degrees of conservatism at training time and devise a method to dynamically choose one of them during evaluation. To do so, in this work, we propose learning value functions that additionally condition on the degree of conservatism, which we dub confidence-conditioned value functions. We derive a new form of a Bellman backup that simultaneously learns Q-values for any degree of confidence with high probability. By conditioning on confidence, our value functions enable adaptive strategies during online evaluation by controlling for confidence level using the history of observations thus far. This approach can be implemented in practice by conditioning the Q-function from existing conservative algorithms on the confidence. We theoretically show that our learned value functions produce conservative estimates of the true value at any desired confidence. Finally, we empirically show that our algorithm outperforms existing conservative offline RL algorithms on multiple discrete control domains.

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