Supported Value Regularization for Offline Reinforcement Learning

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Yixiu Mao, Hongchang Zhang, Chen Chen, Yi Xu, Xiangyang Ji


Offline reinforcement learning suffers from the extrapolation error and value overestimation caused by out-of-distribution (OOD) actions. To mitigate this issue, value regularization approaches aim to penalize the learned value functions to assign lower values to OOD actions. However, existing value regularization methods lack a proper distinction between the regularization effects on in-distribution (ID) and OOD actions, and fail to guarantee optimal convergence results of the policy. To this end, we propose Supported Value Regularization (SVR), which penalizes the Q-values for all OOD actions while maintaining standard Bellman updates for ID ones. Specifically, we utilize the bias of importance sampling to compute the summation of Q-values over the entire OOD region, which serves as the penalty for policy evaluation. This design automatically separates the regularization for ID and OOD actions without manually distinguishing between them. In tabular MDP, we show that the policy evaluation operator of SVR is a contraction, whose fixed point outputs unbiased Q-values for ID actions and underestimated Q-values for OOD actions. Furthermore, the policy iteration with SVR guarantees strict policy improvement until convergence to the optimal support-constrained policy in the dataset. Empirically, we validate the theoretical properties of SVR in a tabular maze environment and demonstrate its state-of-the-art performance on a range of continuous control tasks in the D4RL benchmark.