UNDERSTANDING DOMAIN RANDOMIZATION FOR SIM-TO-REAL TRANSFER

Xiaoyu Chen, Jiachen Hu, Chi Jin, Lihong Li, Liwei Wang

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Reinforcement learning encounters many challenges when applied directly in the real world. Sim-to-real transfer is widely used to transfer the knowledge learned from simulation to the real world. Domain randomization-one of the most popular algorithms for sim-to-real transfer-has been demonstrated to be effective in various tasks in robotics and autonomous driving. Despite its empirical successes, theoretical understanding on why this simple algorithm works is limited. In this paper, we propose a theoretical framework for sim-to-real transfers, in which the simulator is modeled as a set of MDPs with tunable parameters (corresponding to unknown physical parameters such as friction). We provide sharp bounds on the sim-to-real gap-the difference between the value of policy returned by domain randomization and the value of an optimal policy for the real world. We prove that sim-to-real transfer can succeed under mild conditions without any real-world training samples. Our theory also highlights the importance of using memory (i.e., history-dependent policies) in domain randomization. Our proof is based on novel techniques that reduce the problem of bounding the sim-to-real gap to the problem of designing efficient learning algorithms for infinite-horizon MDPs, which we believe are of independent interest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2022
Event10th International Conference on Learning Representations, ICLR 2022 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Apr 25 2022Apr 29 2022

Conference

Conference10th International Conference on Learning Representations, ICLR 2022
CityVirtual, Online
Period4/25/224/29/22

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language

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