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# Logarithmic regret in communicating MDPs: Leveraging known dynamics with bandits

*Proceedings of the 15th Asian Conference on Machine Learning*, PMLR 222:1167-1182, 2024.

#### Abstract

We study regret minimization in an average-reward and communicating Markov Decision Process (MDP) with known dynamics, but unknown reward function. Although learning in such MDPs is a priori easier than in fully unknown ones, they are still largely challenging as they include as special cases large classes of problems such as combinatorial semi-bandits. Leveraging the knowledge on transition function in regret minimization, in a statistically efficient way, appears largely unexplored. As it is conjectured that achieving exact optimality in generic MDPs is NP-hard, even with known transitions, we focus on a computationally efficient relaxation, at the cost of achieving order-optimal logarithmic regret instead of exact optimality. We contribute to filling this gap by introducing a novel algorithm based on the popular Indexed Minimum Empirical Divergence strategy for bandits. A key component of the proposed algorithm is a carefully designed stopping criterion leveraging the recurrent classes induced by stationary policies. We derive a non-asymptotic, problem-dependent, and logarithmic regret bound for this algorithm, which relies on a novel regret decomposition leveraging the structure. We further provide an efficient implementation and experiments illustrating its promising empirical performance.