Regret Minimization for Reinforcement Learning by Evaluating the Optimal Bias Function

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32 (NeurIPS 2019)

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Zihan Zhang, Xiangyang Ji


We present an algorithm based on the \emph{Optimism in the Face of Uncertainty} (OFU) principle which is able to learn Reinforcement Learning (RL) modeled by Markov decision process (MDP) with finite state-action space efficiently. By evaluating the state-pair difference of the optimal bias function $h^{*}$, the proposed algorithm achieves a regret bound of $\tilde{O}(\sqrt{SATH})$\footnote{The symbol $\tilde{O}$ means $O$ with log factors ignored. } for MDP with S states and A actions, in the case that an upper bound $H$ on the span of $h^{*}$, i.e., $sp(h^{*})$ is known. This result outperforms the best previous regret bounds $\tilde{O}(HS\sqrt{AT})$\cite{bartlett2009regal} by a factor of $\sqrt{SH}$. Furthermore, this regret bound matches the lower bound of $\Omega(\sqrt{SATH})$\cite{jaksch2010near} up to a logarithmic factor. As a consequence, we show that there is a near optimal regret bound of $\tilde{O}(\sqrt{DSAT})$ for MDPs with finite diameter $D$ compared to the lower bound of $\Omega(\sqrt{DSAT})$\cite{jaksch2010near}.