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In this paper, we study the effect of adding a value function approximation component (critic) to rollout classification-based policy iteration (RCPI) algorithms. The idea is to use a critic to approximate the return after we truncate the rollout trajectories. This allows us to control the bias and variance of the rollout estimates of the action-value function. Therefore, the introduction of a critic can improve the accuracy of the rollout estimates, and as a result, enhance the performance of the RCPI algorithm. We present a new RCPI algorithm, called direct policy iteration with critic (DPI-Critic), and provide its finite-sample analysis when the critic is based on the LSTD method. We empirically evaluate the performance of DPI-Critic and compare it with DPI and LSPI in two benchmark reinforcement learning problems.

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