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Improved Sample Complexity for Incremental Autonomous Exploration in MDPs
Jean Tarbouriech · Matteo Pirotta · Michal Valko · Alessandro Lazaric

Tue Dec 08 09:00 AM -- 11:00 AM (PST) @ Poster Session 1 #192
We investigate the exploration of an unknown environment when no reward function is provided. Building on the incremental exploration setting introduced by Lim and Auer [1], we define the objective of learning the set of $\epsilon$-optimal goal-conditioned policies attaining all states that are incrementally reachable within $L$ steps (in expectation) from a reference state $s_0$. In this paper, we introduce a novel model-based approach that interleaves discovering new states from $s_0$ and improving the accuracy of a model estimate that is used to compute goal-conditioned policies to reach newly discovered states. The resulting algorithm, DisCo, achieves a sample complexity scaling as $\tilde{O}(L^5 S_{L+\epsilon} \Gamma_{L+\epsilon} A \epsilon^{-2})$, where $A$ is the number of actions, $S_{L+\epsilon}$ is the number of states that are incrementally reachable from $s_0$ in $L+\epsilon$ steps, and $\Gamma_{L+\epsilon}$ is the branching factor of the dynamics over such states. This improves over the algorithm proposed in [1] in both $\epsilon$ and $L$ at the cost of an extra $\Gamma_{L+\epsilon}$ factor, which is small in most environments of interest. Furthermore, DisCo is the first algorithm that can return an $\epsilon/c_{\min}$-optimal policy for any cost-sensitive shortest-path problem defined on the $L$-reachable states with minimum cost $c_{\min}$. Finally, we report preliminary empirical results confirming our theoretical findings.

Author Information

Jean Tarbouriech (Facebook AI Research & Inria)
Matteo Pirotta (Facebook AI Research)
Michal Valko (DeepMind Paris and Inria Lille - Nord Europe)
Michal Valko

Michal is a machine learning scientist in DeepMind Paris, tenured researcher at Inria, and the lecturer of the master course Graphs in Machine Learning at l'ENS Paris-Saclay. Michal is primarily interested in designing algorithms that would require as little human supervision as possible. This means 1) reducing the “intelligence” that humans need to input into the system and 2) minimizing the data that humans need to spend inspecting, classifying, or “tuning” the algorithms. That is why he is working on methods and settings that are able to deal with minimal feedback, such as deep reinforcement learning, bandit algorithms, or self-supervised learning. Michal is actively working on represenation learning and building worlds models. He is also working on deep (reinforcement) learning algorithm that have some theoretical underpinning. He has also worked on sequential algorithms with structured decisions where exploiting the structure leads to provably faster learning. He received his Ph.D. in 2011 from the University of Pittsburgh under the supervision of Miloš Hauskrecht and after was a postdoc of Rémi Munos before taking a permanent position at Inria in 2012.

Alessandro Lazaric (Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research)

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