Bellman Error Based Feature Generation using Random Projections on Sparse Spaces

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 26 (NIPS 2013)

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Mahdi Milani Fard, Yuri Grinberg, Amir-massoud Farahmand, Joelle Pineau, Doina Precup


This paper addresses the problem of automatic generation of features for value function approximation in reinforcement learning. Bellman Error Basis Functions (BEBFs) have been shown to improve the error of policy evaluation with function approximation, with a convergence rate similar to that of value iteration. We propose a simple, fast and robust algorithm based on random projections, which generates BEBFs for sparse feature spaces. We provide a finite sample analysis of the proposed method, and prove that projections logarithmic in the dimension of the original space guarantee a contraction in the error. Empirical results demonstrate the strength of this method in domains in which choosing a good state representation is challenging.