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# Learning in Markov games: Can we exploit a general-sum opponent?

*Proceedings of the Thirty-Eighth Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence*, PMLR 180:1665-1675, 2022.

#### Abstract

In this paper, we study the learning problem in two-player general-sum Markov Games. We consider the online setting where we control a single player, playing against an arbitrary opponent to minimize the regret. Previous works only consider the zero-sum Markov Games setting, in which the two agents are completely adversarial. However, in some cases, the two agents may have different reward functions without having conflicting objectives. This involves a stronger notion of regret than the one used in previous works. This class of games, called general-sum Markov Games is far to be well understood and studied. We show that the new regret minimization problem is significantly harder than in standard Markov Decision Processes and zero-sum Markov Games. To do this, we derive a lower bound on the expected regret of any “good” learning strategy which shows the constant dependencies with the number of deterministic policies, which is not present in zerosum Markov Games and Markov Decision Processes. Then we propose a novel optimistic algorithm that nearly matches the proposed lower bound. Proving these results requires overcoming several new challenges that are not present in Markov Decision Processes or zero-sum Markov Games.