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The Generalization Gap in Offline Reinforcement Learning

Ishita Mediratta · Qingfei You · Minqi Jiang · Roberta Raileanu

Halle B #193
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Wed 8 May 1:45 a.m. PDT — 3:45 a.m. PDT


Despite recent progress in offline learning, these methods are still trained and tested on the same environment. In this paper, we compare the generalization abilities of widely used online and offline learning methods such as online reinforcement learning (RL), offline RL, sequence modeling, and behavioral cloning. Our experiments show that offline learning algorithms perform worse on new environments than online learning ones. We also introduce the first benchmark for evaluating generalization in offline learning, collecting datasets of varying sizes and skill-levels from Procgen (2D video games) and WebShop (e-commerce websites). The datasets contain trajectories for a limited number of game levels or natural language instructions and at test time, the agent has to generalize to new levels or instructions. Our experiments reveal that existing offline learning algorithms struggle to match the performance of online RL on both train and test environments. Behavioral cloning is a strong baseline, outperforming state-of-the-art offline RL and sequence modeling approaches when trained on data from multiple environments and tested on new ones. Finally, we find that increasing the diversity of the data, rather than its size, improves performance on new environments for all offline learning algorithms. Our study demonstrates the limited generalization of current offline learning algorithms highlighting the need for more research in this area.

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