Fall 2020

RL Seminar: Provably Efficient Exploration in Policy Optimization

Sep 22, 2020 10:00 am – 11:00 am 

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Zhuoran Yang (Princeton)


Virtual meeting link will be sent out to program participants.

While policy-based reinforcement learning (RL) achieves tremendous successes in practice, it is significantly less understood in theory, especially compared with value-based RL. In particular, it remains elusive how to design a provably efficient policy optimization algorithm that incorporates exploration. To bridge such a gap, this paper proposes an Optimistic variant of the Proximal Policy Optimization algorithm (OPPO), which follows an ``optimistic version'' of the policy gradient direction. This paper proves that, in the problem of episodic Markov decision process with linear function approximation, unknown transition, and adversarial reward with full-information feedback, OPPO achieves O(\sqrt{d^2H^3T}) regret. Here d is the feature dimension, H is the episode horizon, and T is the total number of steps. To the best of our knowledge, OPPO is the first provably efficient policy optimization algorithm that explores.

Authors: Qi Cai, Zhuoran Yang, Chi Jin, Zhaoran Wang