BRAC+: Improved Behavior Regularized Actor Critic for Offline Reinforcement Learning

Chi Zhang (University of Southern California)*; Sanmukh Rao Kuppannagari (University of Southern California); Viktor K Prasanna (Unversity of Southern California)


Online interactions with the environment to collect data samples for training a Reinforcement Learning (RL) agent is not always feasible due to economic and safety concerns. The goal of Offline Reinforcement Learning is to address this problem by learning effective policies using previously collected datasets. Standard off-policy RL algorithms are prone to overestimations of the values of out-of-distribution (less explored) actions and are hence unsuitable for Offline RL. Behavior regularization, which constraints the learned policy within the support set of the dataset, has been proposed to tackle the limitations of standard off-policy algorithms. In this paper, we improve the behavior regularized offline reinforcement learning and propose BRAC+. First, we propose quantification of the out-of-distribution actions and conduct comparisons between using KullbackÔÇôLeibler divergence versus using Maximum Mean Discrepancy as the regularization protocol. We propose an analytical upper bound on the KL divergence as the behavior regularizer to reduce variance associated with sample based estimations. Second, we mathematically show that the learned Q values can diverge even using behavior regularized policy update under mild assumptions. This leads to large overestimations of the Q values and performance deterioration of the learned policy. To mitigate this issue, we add a gradient penalty term to the policy evaluation objective. By doing so, the Q values are guaranteed to converge. On challenging offline RL benchmarks, BRAC+ outperforms the baseline behavior regularized approaches by $40\%\sim 87\%$ and the state-of-the-art approach by $6\%$.