Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 (NeurIPS 2020)
Alekh Agarwal, Sham Kakade, Akshay Krishnamurthy, Wen Sun
In order to deal with the curse of dimensionality in reinforcement learning (RL), it is common practice to make parametric assumptions where values or policies are functions of some low dimensional feature space. This work focuses on the representation learning question: how can we learn such features? Under the assumption that the underlying (unknown) dynamics correspond to a low rank transition matrix, we show how the representation learning question is related to a particular non-linear matrix decomposition problem. Structurally, we make precise connections between these low rank MDPs and latent variable models, showing how they significantly generalize prior formulations, such as block MDPs, for representation learning in RL. Algorithmically, we develop FLAMBE, which engages in exploration and representation learning for provably efficient RL in low rank transition models. On a technical level, our analysis eliminates reachability assumptions that appear in prior results on the simpler block MDP model and may be of independent interest.