A Unified Framework for Extensive-Form Game Abstraction with Bounds

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 31 (NeurIPS 2018)

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Christian Kroer, Tuomas Sandholm


Abstraction has long been a key component in the practical solving of large-scale extensive-form games. Despite this, abstraction remains poorly understood. There have been some recent theoretical results but they have been confined to specific assumptions on abstraction structure and are specific to various disjoint types of abstraction, and specific solution concepts, for example, exact Nash equilibria or strategies with bounded immediate regret. In this paper we present a unified framework for analyzing abstractions that can express all types of abstractions and solution concepts used in prior papers with performance guarantees---while maintaining comparable bounds on abstraction quality. Moreover, our framework gives an exact decomposition of abstraction error in a much broader class of games, albeit only in an ex-post sense, as our results depend on the specific strategy chosen. Nonetheless, we use this ex-post decomposition along with slightly weaker assumptions than prior work to derive generalizations of prior bounds on abstraction quality. We also show, via counterexample, that such assumptions are necessary for some games. Finally, we prove the first bounds for how $\epsilon$-Nash equilibria computed in abstractions perform in the original game. This is important because often one cannot afford to compute an exact Nash equilibrium in the abstraction. All our results apply to general-sum n-player games.