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Meta-Thompson Sampling

Branislav Kveton · Mikhail Konobeev · Manzil Zaheer · Chih-wei Hsu · Martin Mladenov · Craig Boutilier · Csaba Szepesvari

Keywords: [ Bandits ] [ Reinforcement Learning and Planning ]


Efficient exploration in bandits is a fundamental online learning problem. We propose a variant of Thompson sampling that learns to explore better as it interacts with bandit instances drawn from an unknown prior. The algorithm meta-learns the prior and thus we call it MetaTS. We propose several efficient implementations of MetaTS and analyze it in Gaussian bandits. Our analysis shows the benefit of meta-learning and is of a broader interest, because we derive a novel prior-dependent Bayes regret bound for Thompson sampling. Our theory is complemented by empirical evaluation, which shows that MetaTS quickly adapts to the unknown prior.

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