Reinforcement Learning with Stepwise Fairness Constraints
Proceedings of The 26th International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics, PMLR 206:10594-10618, 2023.
AI methods are used in societally important settings, ranging from credit to employment to housing, and it is crucial to provide fairness in regard to automated decision making. Moreover, many settings are dynamic, with populations responding to sequential decision policies. We introduce the study of reinforcement learning (RL) with stepwise fairness constraints, which require group fairness at each time step. In the case of tabular episodic RL, we provide learning algorithms with strong theoretical guarantees in regard to policy optimality and fairness violations. Our framework provides tools to study the impact of fairness constraints in sequential settings and brings up new challenges in RL.