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A Theoretical Analysis of Cooperative Behavior in Multi-Agent Q-learning



A number of experimental studies have investigated whether cooperative behavior may emerge in multi-agent Q-learning. In some studies cooperative behavior did emerge, in others it did not. This report provides a theoretical analysis of this issue. The analysis focuses on multi-agent Q-learning in iterated prisoner’s dilemmas. It is shown that under certain assumptions cooperative behavior may emerge when multi-agent Q-learning is applied in an iterated prisoner’s dilemma. An important consequence of the analysis is that multi-agent Q-learning may result in non-Nash behavior. It is found experimentally that the theoretical results derived in this report are quite robust to violations of the underlying assumptions.

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