Questions tagged [importance-sampling]

For questions related to the concept of importance sampling (which comes up, for example, in reinforcement learning).

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139 views

With Monte Carlo off-policy learning what do we correct by using importance sampling?

I do not understand the link of importance sampling to Monte Carlo off-policy learning. We estimate a value using sampling on whole episodes, and we take these values to construct the target policy. ...
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22 views

Which off-policy policy gradient estimator has lower variance?

Let $\pi_\theta$ be a target policy and $\beta_\theta$ be a behavior policy. I have seen the following 2 policy gradient estimators in the literature: $$ \operatorname*{E}_{\tau \sim \beta_\theta} \...
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72 views

Where does this variation of the importance sampling weight come from?

I have seeing a variation in importance sampling (IS) in Prioritized Experience Replay (PER) in some implementations regarding the original paper approach stated as (in section 3.4): $$ w_{i}=\left(\...
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37 views

Understanding policy gradient derivation with importance sampling

I was watching a lecture on Policy Gradient and had difficulty following it when importance sampling was introduced. It was shown that the gradient of the objective can be written as $$\nabla_\theta U(...
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1answer
128 views

Why do we need importance sampling?

I was studying the off-policy policy improvement method. Then I encountered importance sampling. I completely understood the mathematics behind the calculation, but I am wondering what is the ...
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0answers
28 views

How to compute the Retrace target for multi-step off-policy Reinforcement Learning?

I am implementing the A3C algorithm and I want to add off-policy training using Retrace but I am having some trouble understanding how to compute the retrace target. Retrace is used in combination ...
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1answer
70 views

When learning off-policy with multi-step returns, why do we use the current behaviour policy in importance sampling?

When learning off-policy with multi-step returns, we want to update the value of $Q(s_1, a_1)$ using rewards from the trajectory $\tau = (s_1, a_1, r_1, s_2, a_2, r_2, ..., s_n, a_n, r_n, s_n+1)$. We ...
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44 views

How to prove variance infinite of monte carlo ordinary importance sampling estimator

In example 5.5 of Sutton and Barto's book for proving infinite variance of first visit monte carlo ordinary importance sampling estimator, $\mathbb{E}[(\Pi_t\frac{\pi(A_t|S_t)}{b(A_t|S_t)}G_0)^2]$ is ...
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31 views

How can I derive n-step off-policy temporal difference formula?

I was reading the book "Reinforcement Learning: An Introduction" by Sutton and Barto. In section 7.3, they write the formula for n-step off-policy TD as $$V(S_t) = V(S_{t-1}) + \alpha \rho_{...
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25 views

Should the importance sampling ratio be updated at the end of the for loop in the off-policy Monte Carlo control algorithm?

I'm studying RL with Sutton and Barto's book. I'd like to ask about the order of execution of a statement in the algorithm below. Here, $W$ (importance sampling ratio) is updated at the end of the <...
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28 views

accessible subset of data impacts performance

I have a problem with a subset of my data which is as follows: I can train a model (doesn't matter what, xgboost, BERT, etc., it is a text classification problem), on my data and get a decent ...
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38 views

Does importance sampling for off-policy estimation also apply to the case of negative rewards?

Importance sampling is a common method for calculating off-policy estimates in RL. I have been reading through some of the original documentation (D.G. Horvitz and D.J. Thompson, Powell, M.J. and ...
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1answer
42 views

How is trajectory sampling different than normal (importance) sampling in reinforcement learning?

I am using Sutton and Barto's book for Reinforcement Learning. In Chapter 8, I am having difficulty in understanding the Trajectory Sampling. I have read the particular section on trajectory sampling (...
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30 views

Why is it the case that off-policy evaluation using importance sampling suffers from high variance?

The average return for trajectories, $V^{\pi_e}$(s) is often computed via the importance sampling estimate $$V^{\pi_e}(s) = \frac{1}{n}\sum_{i=1}^n\prod_{t=0}^{H}\frac{\pi_e(a_t | s_t)}{\pi_b(a_t|s_t)}...
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68 views

Does the off-policy evaluation work for non-stationary policies?

As the title says, in reinforcement learning, does the off-policy evaluation work for non-stationary policies? For example, IS (importance sampling)-based estimators, such as weighted IS or doubly ...
3
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1answer
177 views

Why we don't use importance sampling in tabular Q-Learning?

Why don't we use an importance sampling ratio in Q-Learning, even though Q-Learning is an off-policy method? Importance sampling is used to calculate expectation of a random variable by using data ...
2
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2answers
274 views

How is per-decision importance sampling derived in Sutton & Barto's book?

In per-decison importance sampling given in Sutton & Barto's book: Eq 5.12 $\rho_{t:T-1}R_{t+k} = \frac{\pi(A_{t}|S_{t})}{b(A_{t}|S_{t})}\frac{\pi(A_{t+1}|S_{t+1})}{b(A_{t+1}|S_{t+1})}\frac{\pi(...
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50 views

Why does the n-step return being zero result in high variance in off policy n-step TD?

In the paragraph given between eq 7.12 and 7.13 in Sutton & Barto's book: $G_{t:h} = R_{t+1} + G_{t+1:h} , t < h < T$ where $G_{h:h} = V_{h-1}(S_h)$. (Recall that this return is used at ...
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0answers
49 views

Can weighted importance sampling be applied to off-policy evaluation for continuous state space MDPs?

Can weighted importance sampling (WIS) and importance sampling (IS) be applied to off-policy evaluation for continuous state spaces MDPs? Given that I have trajectories of $(s_t,a_t)$ pairs and the ...
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3answers
122 views

What is the intuition behind importance sampling for off-policy value evaluation?

The technique for off-policy value evaluation comes from importance sampling, which states that $$E_{x \sim q}[f(x)] \approx \frac{1}{n}\sum_{i=1}^n f(x_i)\frac{q(x_i)}{p(x_i)},$$ where $x_i$ is ...
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2answers
329 views

How can we compute the ratio between the distributions if we don't know one of the distributions?

Here is my understanding of importance sampling. If we have two distributions $p(x)$ and $q(x)$, where we have a way of sampling from $p(x)$ but not from $q(x)$, but we want to compute the expectation ...
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1answer
61 views

How is the incremental update rule derived from the weighted importance sampling in off-policy Monte Carlo control?

Here's the approximated value using weighted importance sampling $$ V_{n} \doteq \frac{\sum_{k=1}^{n-1} W_{k} G_{k}}{\sum_{k=1}^{n-1} W_{k}}, \quad n \geq 2 $$ Here's the incremental update rule for ...
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46 views

Importance sampling eq. 5 in paper “Residual Energy-based Models for Text Generation”

In the paper "Residual Energy-Based Models for Text Generation" (arXiv), on page 5, they write that equation 5 is an instance of importance sampling. Equation 5 is: $$ P(x_t \mid x_{<t}) = P_{LM}(...
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47 views

Can the importance sampling estimator have a non-stationary behaviour policy even if the target policy is stationary?

The inverse propensity score (IPS) estimator, which is used for off-policy evaluation in a contextual bandit problem, is well explained in the paper Doubly Robust Policy Evaluation and Optimization. ...
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42 views

Can we use imitation learning for on-policy algorithms?

Imitation learning uses experiences of an (expert) agent to train another agent, in my understanding. If I want to use an on-policy algorithm, for example, Proximal Policy Optimization, because of it'...
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1answer
48 views

Are successive actions independent?

The proof of the consistency of the per-decision importance sampling estimator assumes the independence of $$\frac{\pi(A_t|S_t)}{b(A_t|S_t)}R_{t+1}\quad\text{ and }\quad \prod_{k=t+1}^{T-1}\frac{\pi(...
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2answers
263 views

How can the importance sampling ratio be different than zero when the target policy is deterministic?

In the book Reinforcement Learning: An Introduction (2nd edition) Sutton and Barto define at page 104 (p. 126 of the pdf), equation (5.3), the importance sampling ratio, $\rho _{t:T-1}$, as follows: $$...
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2answers
223 views

In the context of importance sampling ratio, how is the equation $\mathbb{E}\left[\rho_{t: T-1} G_{t} | S_{t}=s\right]=v_{\pi}(s)$ derived?

When reading the book by Sutton and Barto, I came across the importance sampling ratio. The first equation, I believe, describes the probability a particular sequence is obtained given the current ...
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1answer
126 views

Do we need the transition probability function when calculating the importance sampling ratio?

I am reading the book titled "Reinforcement Learning: An Introduction" (by Sutton and Barto). I am at chapter 5, which is about Monte Carlo methods, but now I am quite confused. There is one thing I ...
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2answers
840 views

Why is the log probability replaced with the importance sampling in the loss function?

In the Trust-Region Policy Optimisation (TRPO) algorithm (and subsequently in PPO also), I do not understand the motivation behind replacing the log probability term from standard policy gradients $$L^...
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2answers
8k views

What is sample efficiency, and how can importance sampling be used to achieve it?

For instance, the title of this paper reads: "Sample Efficient Actor-Critic with Experience Replay". What is sample efficiency, and how can importance sampling be used to achieve it?