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In-context Exploration-Exploitation for Reinforcement Learning

Zhenwen Dai · Federico Tomasi · Sina Ghiassian

Halle B #168
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Thu 9 May 1:45 a.m. PDT — 3:45 a.m. PDT


In-context learning is a promising approach for online policy learning of offline reinforcement learning (RL) methods, which can be achieved at inference time without gradient optimization. However, this method is hindered by significant computational costs resulting from the gathering of large training trajectory sets and the need to train large Transformer models. We address this challenge by introducing an In-context Exploration-Exploitation (ICEE) algorithm, designed to optimize the efficiency of in-context policy learning. Unlike existing models, ICEE performs an exploration-exploitation trade-off at inference time within a Transformer model, without the need for explicit Bayesian inference. Consequently, ICEE can solve Bayesian optimization problems as efficiently as Gaussian process biased methods do, but in significantly less time. Through experiments in grid world environments, we demonstrate that ICEE can learn to solve new RL tasks using only tens of episodes, marking a substantial improvement over the hundreds of episodes needed by the previous in-context learning method.

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