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Revisiting Bellman Errors for Offline Model Selection

Joshua Zitovsky · Daniel de Marchi · Rishabh Agarwal · Michael Kosorok

Exhibit Hall 1 #405
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Offline model selection (OMS), that is, choosing the best policy from a set of many policies given only logged data, is crucial for applying offline RL in real-world settings. One idea that has been extensively explored is to select policies based on the mean squared Bellman error (MSBE) of the associated Q-functions. However, previous work has struggled to obtain adequate OMS performance with Bellman errors, leading many researchers to abandon the idea. To this end, we elucidate why previous work has seen pessimistic results with Bellman errors and identify conditions under which OMS algorithms based on Bellman errors will perform well. Moreover, we develop a new estimator of the MSBE that is more accurate than prior methods. Our estimator obtains impressive OMS performance on diverse discrete control tasks, including Atari games.

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