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On Double Descent in Reinforcement Learning with LSTD and Random Features

David Brellmann · Elo├»se Berthier · David Filliat · Goran Frehse

Halle B #221
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Wed 8 May 1:45 a.m. PDT — 3:45 a.m. PDT

Abstract: Temporal Difference (TD) algorithms are widely used in Deep Reinforcement Learning (RL). Their performance is heavily influenced by the size of the neural network. While in supervised learning, the regime of over-parameterization and its benefits are well understood, the situation in RL is much less clear. In this paper, we present a theoretical analysis of the influence of network size and $l_2$-regularization on performance. We identify the ratio between the number of parameters and the number of visited states as a crucial factor and define over-parameterization as the regime when it is larger than one. Furthermore, we observe a double descent phenomenon, i.e., a sudden drop in performance around the parameter/state ratio of one. Leveraging random features and the lazy training regime, we study the regularized Least-Square Temporal Difference (LSTD) algorithm in an asymptotic regime, as both the number of parameters and states go to infinity, maintaining a constant ratio. We derive deterministic limits of both the empirical and the true Mean-Squared Bellman Error (MSBE) that feature correction terms responsible for the double descent. Correction terms vanish when the $l_2$-regularization is increased or the number of unvisited states goes to zero. Numerical experiments with synthetic and small real-world environments closely match the theoretical predictions.

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