Abstract:
This paper presents the first {\em model-free}, {\em simulator-free} reinforcement learning algorithm for Constrained Markov Decision Processes (CMDPs) with sublinear regret and zero constraint violation. The algorithm is named {\em Triple-Q} because it includes three key components: a Q-function (also called action-value function) for the cumulative reward, a Q-function for the cumulative utility for the constraint, and a virtual-Queue that (over)-estimates the cumulative constraint violation. Under Triple-Q, at each step, an action is chosen based on the pseudo-Q-value that is a combination of the three ``Q'' values. The algorithm updates the reward and utility Q-values with learning rates that depend on the visit counts to the corresponding (state, action) pairs and are periodically reset. In the episodic CMDP setting, Triple-Q achieves $\tilde{\cal O}\left(\frac{1 }{\delta}H^4 S^{\frac{1}{2}}A^{\frac{1}{2}}K^{\frac{4}{5}} \right)$ regret\footnote{{\bf Notation:} $f(n) = \tilde{\mathcal O}(g(n))$ denotes $f(n) = {\mathcal O}(g(n){\log}^k n)$ with $k>0.$ The same applies to $\tilde{\Omega}.$ $\mathbb R^+$ denotes non-negative real numbers. $[H]$ denotes the set $\{1,2,\cdots, H\}.$ }, where $K$ is the total number of episodes, $H$ is the number of steps in each episode, $S$ is the number of states, $A$ is the number of actions, and $\delta$ is Slater's constant. Furthermore, {Triple-Q} guarantees zero constraint violation, both on expectation and with a high probability, when $K$ is sufficiently large. Finally, the computational complexity of {Triple-Q} is similar to SARSA for unconstrained MDPs, and is computationally efficient.

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