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Liangyu Zhang, Yang Peng, Jiadong Liang, Wenhao Yang, Zhihua Zhang

In this paper, we study distributional reinforcement learning from the perspective of statistical efficiency. We investigate distributional policy evaluation, aiming to estimate the complete distribution of the random return (denoted $\eta^\pi$) attained by a given policy $\pi$. We use the certainty-equivalence method to construct our estimator $\hat\eta^\pi$, given a generative model is available. We show that in this circumstance we need a dataset of size $\widetilde O\left(\frac{|\mathcal{S}||\mathcal{A}|}{\epsilon^{2p}(1-\gamma)^{2p+2}}\right)$ to guarantee a $p$-Wasserstein metric between $\hat\eta^\pi$ and $\eta^\pi$ is less than $\epsilon$ with high probability. This implies the distributional policy evaluation problem can be solved with sample efficiency. Also, we show that under different mild assumptions a dataset of size $\widetilde O\left(\frac{|\mathcal{S}||\mathcal{A}|}{\epsilon^{2}(1-\gamma)^{4}}\right)$ suffices to ensure the Kolmogorov metric and total variation metric between $\hat\eta^\pi$ and $\eta^\pi$ is below $\epsilon$ with high probability. Furthermore, we investigate the asymptotic behavior of $\hat\eta^\pi$. We demonstrate that the ``empirical process'' $\sqrt{n}(\hat\eta^\pi-\eta^\pi)$ converges weakly to a Gaussian process in the space of bounded functionals on Lipschitz function class $\ell^\infty(\mathcal{F}_{W_1})$, also in the space of bounded functionals on indicator function class $\ell^\infty(\mathcal{F}_{\mathrm{KS}})$ and bounded measurable function class $\ell^\infty(\mathcal{F}_{\mathrm{TV}})$ when some mild conditions hold. Our findings give rise to a unified approach to statistical inference of a wide class of statistical functionals of $\eta^\pi$.

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Toshinori Kitamura, Tadashi Kozuno, Yunhao Tang, Nino Vieillard, Michal Valko, Wenhao Yang, Jincheng Mei, Pierre Ménard, Mohammad Gheshlaghi Azar, Rémi Munos, Olivier Pietquin, Matthieu Geist, Csaba Szepesvári, Wataru Kumagai, Yutaka Matsuo

Mirror descent value iteration (MDVI), an abstraction of Kullback-Leibler (KL) and entropy-regularized reinforcement learning (RL), has served as the basis for recent high-performing practical RL algorithms. However, despite the use of function approximation in practice, the theoretical understanding of MDVI has been limited to tabular Markov decision processes (MDPs). We study MDVI with linear function approximation through its sample complexity required to identify an $\varepsilon$-optimal policy with probability $1-\delta$ under the settings of an infinite-horizon linear MDP, generative model, and G-optimal design. We demonstrate that least-squares regression weighted by the variance of an estimated optimal value function of the next state is crucial to achieving minimax optimality. Based on this observation, we present Variance-Weighted Least-Squares MDVI (VWLS-MDVI), the first theoretical algorithm that achieves nearly minimax optimal sample complexity for infinite-horizon linear MDPs. Furthermore, we propose a practical VWLS algorithm for value-based deep RL, Deep Variance Weighting (DVW). Our experiments demonstrate that DVW improves the performance of popular value-based deep RL algorithms on a set of MinAtar benchmarks.

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Yibo Wang, Wenhao Yang, Wei Jiang, Shiyin Lu, Bing Wang, Haihong Tang, Yuanyu Wan, Lijun Zhang

Projection-free online learning has drawn increasing interest due to its efficiency in solving high-dimensional problems with complicated constraints. However, most existing projection-free online methods focus on minimizing the static regret, which unfortunately fails to capture the challenge of changing environments. In this paper, we investigate non-stationary projection-free online learning, and choose dynamic regret and adaptive regret to measure the performance. Specifically, we first provide a novel dynamic regret analysis for an existing projection-free method named $\text{BOGD}_\text{IP}$, and establish an $\mathcal{O}(T^{3/4}(1+P_T))$ dynamic regret bound, where $P_T$ denotes the path-length of the comparator sequence. Then, we improve the upper bound to $\mathcal{O}(T^{3/4}(1+P_T)^{1/4})$ by running multiple $\text{BOGD}_\text{IP}$ algorithms with different step sizes in parallel, and tracking the best one on the fly. Our results are the first general-case dynamic regret bounds for projection-free online learning, and can recover the existing $\mathcal{O}(T^{3/4})$ static regret by setting $P_T = 0$. Furthermore, we propose a projection-free method to attain an $\tilde{\mathcal{O}}(\tau^{3/4})$ adaptive regret bound for any interval with length $\tau$, which nearly matches the static regret over that interval. The essential idea is to maintain a set of $\text{BOGD}_\text{IP}$ algorithms dynamically, and combine them by a meta algorithm. Moreover, we demonstrate that it is also equipped with an $\mathcal{O}(T^{3/4}(1+P_T)^{1/4})$ dynamic regret bound. Finally, empirical studies verify our theoretical findings.

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Liangyu Zhang, Yang Peng, Wenhao Yang, Zhihua Zhang

We propose a novel generalization of constrained Markov decision processes (CMDPs) that we call the \emph{semi-infinitely constrained Markov decision process} (SICMDP). Particularly, we consider a continuum of constraints instead of a finite number of constraints as in the case of ordinary CMDPs. We also devise two reinforcement learning algorithms for SICMDPs that we call SI-CRL and SI-CPO. SI-CRL is a model-based reinforcement learning algorithm. Given an estimate of the transition model, we first transform the reinforcement learning problem into a linear semi-infinitely programming (LSIP) problem and then use the dual exchange method in the LSIP literature to solve it. SI-CPO is a policy optimization algorithm. Borrowing the ideas from the cooperative stochastic approximation approach, we make alternative updates to the policy parameters to maximize the reward or minimize the cost. To the best of our knowledge, we are the first to apply tools from semi-infinitely programming (SIP) to solve constrained reinforcement learning problems. We present theoretical analysis for SI-CRL and SI-CPO, identifying their iteration complexity and sample complexity. We also conduct extensive numerical examples to illustrate the SICMDP model and demonstrate that our proposed algorithms are able to solve complex sequential decision-making tasks leveraging modern deep reinforcement learning techniques.

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Wenhao Yang, Han Wang, Tadashi Kozuno, Scott M. Jordan, Zhihua Zhang

Robust Markov Decision Processes (MDPs) are getting more attention for learning a robust policy which is less sensitive to environment changes. There are an increasing number of works analyzing sample-efficiency of robust MDPs. However, most works study robust MDPs in a model-based regime, where the transition probability needs to be estimated and requires $\mathcal{O}(|\mathcal{S}|^2|\mathcal{A}|)$ storage in memory. A common way to solve robust MDPs is to formulate them as a distributionally robust optimization (DRO) problem. However, solving a DRO problem is non-trivial, so prior works typically assume a strong oracle to obtain the optimal solution of the DRO problem easily. To remove the need for an oracle, we first transform the original robust MDPs into an alternative form, as the alternative form allows us to use stochastic gradient methods to solve the robust MDPs. Moreover, we prove the alternative form still preserves the role of robustness. With this new formulation, we devise a sample-efficient algorithm to solve the robust MDPs in a model-free regime, from which we benefit lower memory space $\mathcal{O}(|\mathcal{S}||\mathcal{A}|)$ without using the oracle. Finally, we validate our theoretical findings via numerical experiments and show the efficiency to solve the alternative form of robust MDPs.

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Miao Lu, Wenhao Yang, Liangyu Zhang, Zhihua Zhang

In an Markov decision process (MDP), unobservable confounders may exist and have impacts on the data generating process, so that the classic off-policy evaluation (OPE) estimators may fail to identify the true value function of the target policy. In this paper, we study the statistical properties of OPE in confounded MDPs with observable instrumental variables. Specifically, we propose a two-stage estimator based on the instrumental variables and establish its statistical properties in the confounded MDPs with a linear structure. For non-asymptotic analysis, we prove a $\mathcal{O}(n^{-1/2})$-error bound where $n$ is the number of samples. For asymptotic analysis, we prove that the two-stage estimator is asymptotically normal with a typical rate of $n^{1/2}$. To the best of our knowledge, we are the first to show such statistical results of the two-stage estimator for confounded linear MDPs via instrumental variables.

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Tadashi Kozuno, Wenhao Yang, Nino Vieillard, Toshinori Kitamura, Yunhao Tang, Jincheng Mei, Pierre Ménard, Mohammad Gheshlaghi Azar, Michal Valko, Rémi Munos, Olivier Pietquin, Matthieu Geist, Csaba Szepesvári

In this work, we consider and analyze the sample complexity of model-free reinforcement learning with a generative model. Particularly, we analyze mirror descent value iteration (MDVI) by Geist et al. (2019) and Vieillard et al. (2020a), which uses the Kullback-Leibler divergence and entropy regularization in its value and policy updates. Our analysis shows that it is nearly minimax-optimal for finding an $\varepsilon$-optimal policy when $\varepsilon$ is sufficiently small. This is the first theoretical result that demonstrates that a simple model-free algorithm without variance-reduction can be nearly minimax-optimal under the considered setting.

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Xiaobo Xia, Wenhao Yang, Jie Ren, Yewen Li, Yibing Zhan, Bo Han, Tongliang Liu

Pluralistic image completion focuses on generating both visually realistic and diverse results for image completion. Prior methods enjoy the empirical successes of this task. However, their used constraints for pluralistic image completion are argued to be not well interpretable and unsatisfactory from two aspects. First, the constraints for visual reality can be weakly correlated to the objective of image completion or even redundant. Second, the constraints for diversity are designed to be task-agnostic, which causes the constraints to not work well. In this paper, to address the issues, we propose an end-to-end probabilistic method. Specifically, we introduce a unified probabilistic graph model that represents the complex interactions in image completion. The entire procedure of image completion is then mathematically divided into several sub-procedures, which helps efficient enforcement of constraints. The sub-procedure directly related to pluralistic results is identified, where the interaction is established by a Gaussian mixture model (GMM). The inherent parameters of GMM are task-related, which are optimized adaptively during training, while the number of its primitives can control the diversity of results conveniently. We formally establish the effectiveness of our method and demonstrate it with comprehensive experiments.

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Hao Jin, Yang Peng, Wenhao Yang, Shusen Wang, Zhihua Zhang

We study a Federated Reinforcement Learning (FedRL) problem in which $n$ agents collaboratively learn a single policy without sharing the trajectories they collected during agent-environment interaction. We stress the constraint of environment heterogeneity, which means $n$ environments corresponding to these $n$ agents have different state transitions. To obtain a value function or a policy function which optimizes the overall performance in all environments, we propose two federated RL algorithms, \texttt{QAvg} and \texttt{PAvg}. We theoretically prove that these algorithms converge to suboptimal solutions, while such suboptimality depends on how heterogeneous these $n$ environments are. Moreover, we propose a heuristic that achieves personalization by embedding the $n$ environments into $n$ vectors. The personalization heuristic not only improves the training but also allows for better generalization to new environments.

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Xiang Li, Wenhao Yang, Jiadong Liang, Zhihua Zhang, Michael I. Jordan

We study synchronous Q-learning with Polyak-Ruppert averaging (a.k.a., averaged Q-learning) in a $\gamma$-discounted MDP. We establish a functional central limit theorem (FCLT) for the averaged iteration $\bar{\boldsymbol{Q}}_T$ and show its standardized partial-sum process weakly converges to a rescaled Brownian motion. Furthermore, we show that $\bar{\boldsymbol{Q}}_T$ is actually a regular asymptotically linear (RAL) estimator for the optimal Q-value function $\boldsymbol{Q}^*$ with the most efficient influence function. This implies the averaged Q-learning iteration has the smallest asymptotic variance among all RAL estimators. In addition, we present a non-asymptotic analysis for the $\ell_{\infty}$ error $\mathbb{E}\|\bar{\boldsymbol{Q}}_T-\boldsymbol{Q}^*\|_{\infty}$, showing for polynomial step sizes it matches the instance-dependent lower bound as well as the optimal minimax complexity lower bound. In short, our theoretical analysis shows averaged Q-learning is statistically efficient.

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