A Unified Switching System Perspective and Convergence Analysis of Q-Learning Algorithms

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 (NeurIPS 2020)

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Donghwan Lee, Niao He


This paper develops a novel and unified framework to analyze the convergence of a large family of Q-learning algorithms from the switching system perspective. We show that the nonlinear ODE models associated with Q-learning and many of its variants can be naturally formulated as affine switching systems. Building on their asymptotic stability, we obtain a number of interesting results: (i) we provide a simple ODE analysis for the convergence of asynchronous Q-learning under relatively weak assumptions; (ii) we establish the first convergence analysis of the averaging Q-learning algorithm; and (iii) we derive a new sufficient condition for the convergence of Q-learning with linear function approximation.