[edit]

# Variance-Reduced Conservative Policy Iteration

*Proceedings of The 34th International Conference on Algorithmic Learning Theory*, PMLR 201:3-33, 2023.

#### Abstract

We study the sample complexity of reducing reinforcement learning to a sequence of empirical risk minimization problems over the policy space. Such reductions-based algorithms exhibit local convergence in the function space, as opposed to the parameter space for policy gradient algorithms, and thus are unaffected by the possibly non-linear or discontinuous parameterization of the policy class. We propose a variance-reduced variant of Conservative Policy Iteration that improves the sample complexity of producing a $\varepsilon$-functional local optimum from $O(\varepsilon^{-4})$ to $O(\varepsilon^{-3})$. Under state-coverage and policy-completeness assumptions, the algorithm enjoys $\varepsilon$-global optimality after sampling $O(\varepsilon^{-2})$ times, improving upon the previously established $O(\varepsilon^{-3})$ sample requirement.