On the Linear Convergence of Policy Gradient Methods for Finite MDPs

Jalaj Bhandari · Daniel Russo

Keywords: [ Reinforcement Learning ]


We revisit the finite time analysis of policy gradient methods in the one of the simplest settings: finite state and action MDPs with a policy class consisting of all stochastic policies and with exact gradient evaluations. There has been some recent work viewing this setting as an instance of smooth non-linear optimization problems, to show sub-linear convergence rates with small step-sizes. Here, we take a completely different perspective based on illuminating connections with policy iteration, to show how many variants of policy gradient algorithms succeed with large step-sizes and attain a linear rate of convergence.

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