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Regularized Gradient Descent Ascent for Two-Player Zero-Sum Markov Games

Sihan Zeng · Thinh Doan · Justin Romberg

Hall J (level 1) #725

Keywords: [ minimax optimization ] [ Reinforcement Learning ] [ Markov game ]


We study the problem of finding the Nash equilibrium in a two-player zero-sum Markov game. Due to its formulation as a minimax optimization program, a natural approach to solve the problem is to perform gradient descent/ascent with respect to each player in an alternating fashion. However, due to the non-convexity/non-concavity of the underlying objective function, theoretical understandings of this method are limited. In our paper, we consider solving an entropy-regularized variant of the Markov game. The regularization introduces structures into the optimization landscape that make the solutions more identifiable and allow the problem to be solved more efficiently. Our main contribution is to show that under proper choices of the regularization parameter, the gradient descent ascent algorithm converges to the Nash equilibrium of the original unregularized problem. We explicitly characterize the finite-time performance of the last iterate of our algorithm, which vastly improves over the existing convergence bound of the gradient descent ascent algorithm without regularization. Finally, we complement the analysis with numerical simulations that illustrate the accelerated convergence of the algorithm.

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