Reinforcement learning in non-stationary discrete-time linear-quadratic mean-field games

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In this paper, we study large population multi-agent reinforcement learning (RL) in the context of discrete-time linear-quadratic mean-field games (LQ-MFGs). Our setting differs from most existing work on RL for MFGs, in that we consider a non-stationary MFG over an infinite horizon. We propose an actor-critic algorithm to iteratively compute the mean-field equilibrium (MFE) of the LQ-MFG. There are two primary challenges i) the non-stationarity of the MFG induces a linear-quadratic tracking problem, which requires solving a backwards-in-time (non-causal) equation that cannot be solved by standard (causal) RL algorithms; ii) Many RL algorithms assume that the states are sampled from the stationary distribution of a Markov chain (MC), that is, the chain is already mixed, an assumption that is not satisfied for real data sources. We first identify that the mean-field trajectory follows linear dynamics, allowing the problem to be reformulated as a linear quadratic Gaussian problem. Under this reformulation, we propose an actor-critic algorithm that allows samples to be drawn from an unmixed MC. Finite-sample convergence guarantees for the algorithm are then provided. To characterize the performance of our algorithm in multi-agent RL, we have developed an error bound with respect to the Nash equilibrium of the finite-population game.

In 59th Conference on Decision and Control 2020
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