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A Contraction Approach to Model-based Reinforcement Learning

Ting-Han Fan · Peter Ramadge

Keywords: [ Reinforcement Learning ]


Despite its experimental success, Model-based Reinforcement Learning still lacks a complete theoretical understanding. To this end, we analyze the error in the cumulative reward using a contraction approach. We consider both stochastic and deterministic state transitions for continuous (non-discrete) state and action spaces. This approach doesn't require strong assumptions and can recover the typical quadratic error to the horizon. We prove that branched rollouts can reduce this error and are essential for deterministic transitions to have a Bellman contraction. Our analysis of policy mismatch error also applies to Imitation Learning. In this case, we show that GAN-type learning has an advantage over Behavioral Cloning when its discriminator is well-trained.

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