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Value Function Based Reinforcement Learning in Changing Markovian Environments

Balázs Csanád Csáji, László Monostori; 9(54):1679−1709, 2008.


The paper investigates the possibility of applying value function based reinforcement learning (RL) methods in cases when the environment may change over time. First, theorems are presented which show that the optimal value function of a discounted Markov decision process (MDP) Lipschitz continuously depends on the immediate-cost function and the transition-probability function. Dependence on the discount factor is also analyzed and shown to be non-Lipschitz. Afterwards, the concept of (ε,δ)-MDPs is introduced, which is a generalization of MDPs and ε-MDPs. In this model the environment may change over time, more precisely, the transition function and the cost function may vary from time to time, but the changes must be bounded in the limit. Then, learning algorithms in changing environments are analyzed. A general relaxed convergence theorem for stochastic iterative algorithms is presented. We also demonstrate the results through three classical RL methods: asynchronous value iteration, Q-learning and temporal difference learning. Finally, some numerical experiments concerning changing environments are presented.

© JMLR 2008. (edit, beta)