Scalable Planning in Multi-Agent MDPs

Dinuka Sahabandu, Luyao Niu, Andrew Clark, Radha Poovendran

Multi-agent Markov Decision Processes (MMDPs) arise in a variety of applications including target tracking, control of multi-robot swarms, and multiplayer games. A key challenge in MMDPs occurs when the state and action spaces grow exponentially in the number of agents, making computation of an optimal policy computationally intractable for medium- to large-scale problems. One property that has been exploited to mitigate this complexity is transition independence, in which each agent's transition probabilities are independent of the states and actions of other agents. Transition independence enables factorization of the MMDP and computation of local agent policies but does not hold for arbitrary MMDPs. In this paper, we propose an approximate transition dependence property, called $\delta$-transition dependence and develop a metric for quantifying how far an MMDP deviates from transition independence. Our definition of $\delta$-transition dependence recovers transition independence as a special case when $\delta$ is zero. We develop a polynomial time algorithm in the number of agents that achieves a provable bound on the global optimum when the reward functions are monotone increasing and submodular in the agent actions. We evaluate our approach on two case studies, namely, multi-robot control and multi-agent patrolling example.

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