Non-convex Optimization for Linear Quadratic Gaussian (LQG) Control
Abstract: Recent studies have started to apply machine learning techniques to the control of unknown dynamical systems. They have achieved impressive empirical results. However, the convergence behavior, statistical properties, and robustness performance of these approaches are often poorly understood due to the non-convex nature of the underlying control problems. In this talk, we revisit the Linear Quadratic Gaussian (LQG) control and present recent progress towards its landscape analysis from a non-convex optimization perspective. We view the LQG cost as a function of the controller parameters and study its analytical and geometrical properties. Due to the inherent symmetry induced by similarity transformations, the LQG landscape is very rich yet complicated. We show that 1) the set of stabilizing controllers has at most two path-connected components, and 2) despite the nonconvexity, all minimal stationary points (controllable and observable controllers) are globally optimal. Based on the special non-convex optimization landscape, we further introduce a novel perturbed policy gradient (PGD) method to escape a large class of suboptimal stationary points (including high-order saddles). These results shed some light on the performance analysis of direct policy gradient methods for solving the LQG problem. The talk is based on our recent papers: https://arxiv.org/abs/2102.04393 and https://arxiv.org/abs/2204.00912.