Convergence Analysis of the Approximate Newton Method for Markov Decision Processes


Recently two approximate Newton methods were proposed for the optimisation of Markov Decision Processes. While these methods were shown to have desirable properties, such as a guarantee that the preconditioner is negative-semidefinite when the policy is log\log-concave with respect to the policy parameters, and were demonstrated to have strong empirical performance in challenging domains, such as the game of Tetris, no convergence analysis was provided. The purpose of this paper is to provide such an analysis. We start by providing a detailed analysis of the Hessian of a Markov Decision Process, which is formed of a negative-semidefinite component, a positive-semidefinite component and a remainder term. The first part of our analysis details how the negative-semidefinite and positive-semidefinite components relate to each other, and how these two terms contribute to the Hessian. The next part of our analysis shows that under certain conditions, relating to the richness of the policy class, the remainder term in the Hessian vanishes in the vicinity of a local optimum. Finally, we bound the behaviour of this remainder term in terms of the mixing time of the Markov chain induced by the policy parameters, where this part of the analysis is applicable over the entire parameter space. Given this analysis of the Hessian we then provide our local convergence analysis of the approximate Newton framework.Comment: This work has been removed because a more recent piece (A Gauss-Newton method for Markov Decision Processes, T. Furmston & G. Lever) of work has subsumed i

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