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# Episodic Reinforcement Learning in Finite MDPs: Minimax Lower Bounds Revisited

*Proceedings of the 32nd International Conference on Algorithmic Learning Theory*, PMLR 132:578-598, 2021.

#### Abstract

In this paper, we propose new problem-independent lower bounds on the sample complexity and regret in episodic MDPs, with a particular focus on the \emph{non-stationary case} in which the transition kernel is allowed to change in each stage of the episode. Our main contribution is a lower bound of $\Omega((H^3SA/\epsilon^2)\log(1/\delta))$ on the sample complexity of an $(\varepsilon,\delta)$-PAC algorithm for best policy identification in a non-stationary MDP, relying on a construction of “hard MDPs” which is different from the ones previously used in the literature. Using this same class of MDPs, we also provide a rigorous proof of the $\Omega(\sqrt{H^3SAT})$ regret bound for non-stationary MDPs. Finally, we discuss connections to PAC-MDP lower bounds.