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On the Global Convergence Rates of Decentralized Softmax Gradient Play in Markov Potential Games
Runyu Zhang · Jincheng Mei · Bo Dai · Dale Schuurmans · Na Li

Tue Nov 29 09:00 AM -- 11:00 AM (PST) @ Hall J #404
Softmax policy gradient is a popular algorithm for policy optimization in single-agent reinforcement learning, particularly since projection is not needed for each gradient update. However, in multi-agent systems, the lack of central coordination introduces significant additional difficulties in the convergence analysis. Even for a stochastic game with identical interest, there can be multiple Nash Equilibria (NEs), which disables proof techniques that rely on the existence of a unique global optimum. Moreover, the softmax parameterization introduces non-NE policies with zero gradient, making it difficult for gradient-based algorithms in seeking NEs. In this paper, we study the finite time convergence of decentralized softmax gradient play in a special form of game, Markov Potential Games (MPGs), which includes the identical interest game as a special case. We investigate both gradient play and natural gradient play, with and without $\log$-barrier regularization. The established convergence rates for the unregularized cases contain a trajectory dependent constant that can be \emph{arbitrarily large}, whereas the $\log$-barrier regularization overcomes this drawback, with the cost of slightly worse dependence on other factors such as the action set size. An empirical study on an identical interest matrix game confirms the theoretical findings.

Author Information

Runyu Zhang (Harvard University)
Jincheng Mei (Google Research, Brain Team)
Bo Dai (Google Brain)
Dale Schuurmans (Google Brain & University of Alberta)
Na Li (Harvard University)

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