Why I write this note?
In Spring 2019, I took a seminar class CS598: Statistical Reinforcement Learning given by Prof. Nan Jiang. This class covers the theortical fundations of many topics in reinforcement learning such as planning, certainty-equivalence, state abstraction, fitted Q-iteration, exploration, and partial observability. I learned a lot in the class and really enjoyed it. In addition, this class includes a final project that requires us to either reproduce the proofs of an existing paper or conduct a novel research with significant theoretical component. Since I have no background on reinforcement learning theory, I decide to take the former type of project and reproduce the proofs of a classic paper in details.
Why I choose this paper?
Probably the first thing I learned in the class is the difference between learning and planning. If the environment (or the model) is known, we do planning, otherwise, we do learning. This paper is particularly interesting as it studies a setting that we do have the environment information but only through the access to a simulator. As a result, we avoid the need to explicitly specifiy the huge environment.