Reinforcement Learning in Linear MDPs: Constant Regret and Representation Selection

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 (NeurIPS 2021)

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Matteo Papini, Andrea Tirinzoni, Aldo Pacchiano, Marcello Restelli, Alessandro Lazaric, Matteo Pirotta


We study the role of the representation of state-action value functions in regret minimization in finite-horizon Markov Decision Processes (MDPs) with linear structure. We first derive a necessary condition on the representation, called universally spanning optimal features (UNISOFT), to achieve constant regret in any MDP with linear reward function. This result encompasses the well-known settings of low-rank MDPs and, more generally, zero inherent Bellman error (also known as the Bellman closure assumption). We then demonstrate that this condition is also sufficient for these classes of problems by deriving a constant regret bound for two optimistic algorithms (LSVI-UCB and ELEANOR). Finally, we propose an algorithm for representation selection and we prove that it achieves constant regret when one of the given representations, or a suitable combination of them, satisfies the UNISOFT condition.