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# Finite-time theory for momentum Q-learning

*Proceedings of the Thirty-Seventh Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence*, PMLR 161:665-674, 2021.

#### Abstract

Existing studies indicate that momentum ideas in conventional optimization can be used to improve the performance of Q-learning algorithms. However, the finite-time analysis for momentum-based Q-learning algorithms is only available for the tabular case without function approximation. This paper analyzes a class of momentum-based Q-learning algorithms with finite-time convergence guarantee. Specifically, we propose the MomentumQ algorithm, which integrates the Nesterov’s and Polyak’s momentum schemes, and generalizes the existing momentum-based Q-learning algorithms. For the infinite state-action space case, we establish the convergence guarantee for MomentumQ with linear function approximation under Markovian sampling. In particular, we characterize a finite-time convergence rate which is provably faster than the vanilla Q-learning. This is the first finite-time analysis for momentum-based Q-learning algorithms with function approximation. For the tabular case under synchronous sampling, we also obtain a finite-time convergence rate that is slightly better than the SpeedyQ (Azar et al., NIPS 2011). Finally, we demonstrate through various experiments that the proposed MomentumQ outperforms other momentum-based Q-learning algorithms.