Keywords: Reinforcement learning, dynamic programming, planning
TL;DR: Making maximisation over actions in value iteration asynchronous
Abstract: Value iteration (VI) is a foundational dynamic programming method, important for learning and planning in optimal control and reinforcement learning. VI proceeds in batches, where the update to the value of each state must be completed before the next batch of updates can begin. Completing a single batch is prohibitively expensive if the state space is large, rendering VI impractical for many applications. Asynchronous VI helps to address the large state space problem by updating one state at a time, in-place and in an arbitrary order. However, Asynchronous VI still requires a maximization over the entire action space, making it impractical for domains with large action space. To address this issue, we propose doubly-asynchronous value iteration (DAVI), a new algorithm that generalizes the idea of asynchrony from states to states and actions. More concretely, DAVI maximizes over a sampled subset of actions that can be of any user-defined size. This simple approach of using sampling to reduce computation maintains similarly appealing theoretical properties to VI without the need to wait for a full sweep through the entire action space in each update. In this paper, we show DAVI converges to the optimal value function with probability one, converges at a near-geometric rate with probability $1-\delta$, and returns a near-optimal policy in computation time that nearly matches a previously established bound for VI. We also empirically demonstrate DAVI's effectiveness in several experiments.
Supplementary Material: pdf