Adaptive Discretization for Episodic Reinforcement Learning in Metric Spaces


We present an efficient algorithm for model-free episodic reinforcement learning on large (potentially continuous) state-action spaces. Our algorithm is based on a novel Q-learning policy with adaptive data-driven discretization. The central idea is to maintain a finer partition of the state-action space in regions which are frequently visited in historical trajectories, and have higher payoff estimates. We demonstrate how our adaptive partitions take advantage of the shape of the optimal Q-function and the joint space, without sacrificing the worst-case performance. In particular, we recover the regret guarantees of prior algorithms for continuous state-action spaces, which additionally require either an optimal discretization as input, and/or access to a simulation oracle. Moreover, experiments demonstrate how our algorithm automatically adapts to the underlying structure of the problem, resulting in much better performance compared both to heuristics and Q-learning with uniform discretization.

Proceedings of the ACM on Measurement and Analysis of Computing Systems

Journal version of Sinclair et al. (2020).

Siddhartha Banerjee
Siddhartha Banerjee
Assistant Professor

Sid Banerjee is an assistant professor in the School of Operations Research at Cornell, working on topics at the intersection of data-driven decision-making, market design, and algorithms for large-scale networks.