University of Florida
Stochastic Approximation algorithms are used to approximate solutions to fixed point equations that involve expectations of functions with respect to possibly unknown distributions. The most famous examples today are TD- and Q-learning algorithms. The first half of this lecture will provide an overview of stochastic approximation, with a focus on optimizing the rate of convergence. A new approach to optimize the rate of convergence leads to the new Zap Q-learning algorithm. Analysis suggests that its transient behavior is a close match to a deterministic Newton-Raphson implementation, and numerical experiments confirm super fast convergence.