Towards Assessing and Benchmarking Risk-Return Tradeoff of Off-Policy Evaluation


Off-Policy Evaluation (OPE) aims to assess the effectiveness of counterfactual policies using only offline logged data and is often used to identify the top-k promising policies for deployment in online A/B tests. Existing evaluation metrics for OPE estimators primarily focus on the accuracy of OPE or that of downstream policy selection, neglecting risk-return tradeoff in the subsequent online policy deployment. To address this issue, we draw inspiration from portfolio evaluation in finance and develop a new metric, called SharpeRatio@k, which measures the risk-return tradeoff of policy portfolios formed by an OPE estimator under varying online evaluation budgets (k). We validate our metric in two example scenarios, demonstrating its ability to effectively distinguish between low-risk and high-risk estimators and to accurately identify the most efficient estimator. This efficient estimator is characterized by its capability to form the most advantageous policy portfolios, maximizing returns while minimizing risks during online deployment, a nuance that existing metrics typically overlook. To facilitate a quick, accurate, and consistent evaluation of OPE via SharpeRatio@k, we have also integrated this metric into an open-source software, SCOPE-RL. Employing SharpeRatio@k and SCOPE-RL, we conduct comprehensive benchmarking experiments on various estimators and RL tasks, focusing on their risk-return tradeoff. These experiments offer several interesting directions and suggestions for future OPE research.

In Proceedings of the Twelfth International Conference on Learning Representations (ICLR) (Acceptance Rate=31%)
Yuta Saito
Yuta Saito
Third-year CS Ph.D. Student