A weighted Markov decision process
Filar, Jerzy A
Sinha, Sagnik S
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The two most commonly considered reward criteria for Markov decision processes are the discounted reward and the long-term average reward. The first tends to "neglect" the future, concentrating on the short-term rewards, while the second one tends to do the opposite. We consider a new reward criterion consisting of the weighted combination of these two criteria, thereby allowing the decision maker to place more or less emphasis on the short-term versus the long-term rewards by varying their weights. The mathematical implications of the new criterion include: the deterministic stationary policies can be outperformed by the randomized stationary policies, which in turn can be outperformed by the nonstationary policies; an optimal policy might not exist. We present an iterative algorithm for computing an e-optimal nonstationary policy with a very simple structure.