Policy Gradient for Coherent Risk Measures

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 28 (NIPS 2015)

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Aviv Tamar, Yinlam Chow, Mohammad Ghavamzadeh, Shie Mannor


Several authors have recently developed risk-sensitive policy gradient methods that augment the standard expected cost minimization problem with a measure of variability in cost. These studies have focused on specific risk-measures, such as the variance or conditional value at risk (CVaR). In this work, we extend the policy gradient method to the whole class of coherent risk measures, which is widely accepted in finance and operations research, among other fields. We consider both static and time-consistent dynamic risk measures. For static risk measures, our approach is in the spirit of policy gradient algorithms and combines a standard sampling approach with convex programming. For dynamic risk measures, our approach is actor-critic style and involves explicit approximation of value function. Most importantly, our contribution presents a unified approach to risk-sensitive reinforcement learning that generalizes and extends previous results.