State Action Separable Reinforcement Learning

Abstract Reinforcement Learning (RL) based methods have seen their paramount successes in solving serial decision-making and control problems in recent years. For conventional RL formulations, Markov Decision Process (MDP) and state-action-value function are the basis for the problem modeling and policy evaluation. However, several challenging issues still remain. Among most cited issues, the inefficiency in utilizing training data is an important factor that causes difficulties in accurately approximating the state-action-value function. We observe that although actions directly define the agents' behaviors, for many problems the next state after a state transition matters more than the action taken, in determining the return of such a state transition. In this regard, we propose a new learning paradigm, State Action Separable Reinforcement Learning (sasRL), wherein the action space is decoupled from the value function learning process for higher learning efficiency. Then, a light-weight transition model is learned to assist the agent to determine the action that triggers the associated state transition. Our convergence analysis reveals that under certain conditions, the convergence time of sasRL is O(T1/k), where T is the convergence time for updating the value function in the MDP-based formulation and k is a weighting factor. Experiments on several gaming scenarios show that sasRL outperforms state-of-the-art MDP-based RL algorithms by up to 75%.
  • Ziyao Zhang (Imperial)
  • Liang Ma (IBM US)
  • Kin Leung (Imperial)
  • Konstantinos Poularakis (Yale)
  • Mudhakar Srivatsa (IBM US)
Date Dec-2020
Venue 2020 IEEE International Conference on Big Data (Big Data)