Approximate Policy Iteration with Bisimulation Metrics

Published: 12 Nov 2022, Last Modified: 28 Feb 2023Accepted by TMLREveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
Abstract: Bisimulation metrics define a distance measure between states of a Markov decision process (MDP) based on a comparison of reward sequences. Due to this property they provide theoretical guarantees in value function approximation (VFA). In this work we first prove that bisimulation and $\pi$-bisimulation metrics can be defined via a more general class of Sinkhorn distances, which unifies various state similarity metrics used in recent work. Then we describe an approximate policy iteration (API) procedure that uses a bisimulation-based discretization of the state space for VFA and prove asymptotic performance bounds. Next, we bound the difference between $\pi$-bisimulation metrics in terms of the change in the policies themselves. Based on these results, we design an API($\alpha$) procedure that employs conservative policy updates and enjoys better performance bounds than the naive API approach. We discuss how such API procedures map onto practical actor-critic methods that use bisimulation metrics for state representation learning. Lastly, we validate our theoretical results and investigate their practical implications via a controlled empirical analysis based on an implementation of bisimulation-based API for finite MDPs.
Submission Length: Regular submission (no more than 12 pages of main content)
Changes Since Last Submission: - Deanonymized and added Acknowledgements. Updated author list formatting.
Assigned Action Editor: ~Ronald_Ortner1
License: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Submission Number: 295