Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 31 (NeurIPS 2018)
This paper introduces a model-based reinforcement learning (MBRL) framework that incorporates the underlying decision problem in learning the transition model of the environment. This is in contrast with conventional approaches to MBRL that learn the model of the environment, for example by finding the maximum likelihood estimate, without taking into account the decision problem. Value-Aware Model Learning (VAML) framework argues that this might not be a good idea, especially if the true model of the environment does not belong to the model class from which we are estimating the model. The original VAML framework, however, may result in an optimization problem that is difficult to solve. This paper introduces a new MBRL class of algorithms, called Iterative VAML, that benefits from the structure of how the planning is performed (i.e., through approximate value iteration) to devise a simpler optimization problem. The paper theoretically analyzes Iterative VAML and provides finite sample error upper bound guarantee for it.