Kernelized Reinforcement Learning with Order Optimal Regret Bounds

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper


Sattar Vakili, Julia Olkhovskaya


Modern reinforcement learning (RL) has shown empirical success in various real world settings with complex models and large state-action spaces. The existing analytical results, however, typically focus on settings with a small number of state-actions or simple models such as linearly modeled state-action value functions. To derive RL policies that efficiently handle large state-action spaces with more general value functions, some recent works have considered nonlinear function approximation using kernel ridge regression. We propose $\pi$-KRVI, an optimistic modification of least-squares value iteration, when the action-value function is represented by an RKHS. We prove the first order-optimal regret guarantees under a general setting. Our results show a significant polynomial in the number of episodes improvement over the state of the art. In particular, with highly non-smooth kernels (such as Neural Tangent kernel or some Matérn kernels) the existing results lead to trivial (superlinear in the number of episodes) regret bounds. We show a sublinear regret bound that is order optimal in the cases where a lower bound on regret is known (which includes the kernels mentioned above).