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Representation Learning for Online and Offline RL in Low-rank MDPs
Masatoshi Uehara · Xuezhou Zhang · Wen Sun
This work studies the question of Representation Learning in RL: how can we learn a compact low-dimensional representation such that on top of the representation we can perform RL procedures such as exploration and exploitation, in a sample efficient manner. We focus on the low-rank Markov Decision Processes (MDPs) where the transition dynamics correspond to a low-rank transition matrix. Unlike prior works that assume the representation is known (e.g., linear MDPs), here we need to learn the representation for the low-rank MDP. We study both the online RL and offline RL settings. For the online setting, operating with the same computational oracles used in FLAMBE (Agarwal et.al), the state-of-art algorithm for learning representations in low-rank MDPs, we propose an algorithm REP-UCB Upper Confidence Bound driven Representation learning for RL), which significantly improves the sample complexity from $\widetilde{O}( A^9 d^7 / (\epsilon^{10} (1-\gamma)^{22}))$ for FLAMBE to $\widetilde{O}( A^4 d^4 / (\epsilon^2 (1-\gamma)^{2}) )$ with $d$ being the rank of the transition matrix (or dimension of the ground truth representation), $A$ being the number of actions, and $\gamma$ being the discounted factor. Notably, REP-UCB is simpler than FLAMBE, as it directly balances the interplay between representation learning, exploration, and exploitation, while FLAMBE is an explore-then-commit style approach and has to perform reward-free exploration step-by-step forward in time. For the offline RL setting, we develop an algorithm that leverages pessimism to learn under a partial coverage condition: our algorithm is able to compete against any policy as long as it is covered by the offline distribution.

Author Information

Masatoshi Uehara (Cornell University)
Xuezhou Zhang (Princeton)
Wen Sun (Cornell University)

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