Regret Bounds for Information-Directed Reinforcement Learning

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 35 (NeurIPS 2022) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Botao Hao, Tor Lattimore


Information-directed sampling (IDS) has revealed its potential as a data-efficient algorithm for reinforcement learning (RL). However, theoretical understanding of IDS for Markov Decision Processes (MDPs) is still limited. We develop novel information-theoretic tools to bound the information ratio and cumulative information gain about the learning target. Our theoretical results shed light on the importance of choosing the learning target such that the practitioners can balance the computation and regret bounds. As a consequence, we derive prior-free Bayesian regret bounds for vanilla-IDS which learns the whole environment under tabular finite-horizon MDPs. In addition, we propose a computationally-efficient regularized-IDS that maximizes an additive form rather than the ratio form and show that it enjoys the same regret bound as vanilla-IDS. With the aid of rate-distortion theory, we improve the regret bound by learning a surrogate, less informative environment. Furthermore, we extend our analysis to linear MDPs and prove similar regret bounds for Thompson sampling as a by-product.