Markov $\alpha$-Potential Games: Equilibrium Approximation and Regret Analysis

Xin Guo, Xinyu Li, Chinmay Maheshwari, Shankar Sastry, Manxi Wu

This paper proposes a new framework to study multi-agent interaction in Markov games: Markov $\alpha$-potential games. Markov potential games are special cases of Markov $\alpha$-potential games, so are two important and practically significant classes of games: Markov congestion games and perturbed Markov team games. In this paper, {$\alpha$-potential} functions for both games are provided and the gap $\alpha$ is characterized with respect to game parameters. Two algorithms -- the projected gradient-ascent algorithm and the sequential maximum improvement smoothed best response dynamics -- are introduced for approximating the stationary Nash equilibrium in Markov $\alpha$-potential games. The Nash-regret for each algorithm is shown to scale sub-linearly in time horizon. Our analysis and numerical experiments demonstrates that simple algorithms are capable of finding approximate equilibrium in Markov $\alpha$-potential games.

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