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Optimizing Percentile Criterion using Robust MDPs

Bahram Behzadian · Reazul Hasan Russel · Marek Petrik · Chin Pang Ho

Keywords: [ Reinforcement Learning ]


We address the problem of computing reliable policies in reinforcement learning problems with limited data. In particular, we compute policies that achieve good returns with high confidence when deployed. This objective, known as the percentile criterion, can be optimized using Robust MDPs (RMDPs). RMDPs generalize MDPs to allow for uncertain transition probabilities chosen adversarially from given ambiguity sets. We show that the RMDP solution's sub-optimality depends on the spans of the ambiguity sets along the value function. We then propose new algorithms that minimize the span of ambiguity sets defined by weighted L1 and L-infinity norms. Our primary focus is on Bayesian guarantees, but we also describe how our methods apply to frequentist guarantees and derive new concentration inequalities for weighted L1 and L-infinity norms. Experimental results indicate that our optimized ambiguity sets improve significantly on prior construction methods.

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