Bandits 2

Moderator: Seungjin Choi


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Wed 21 July 17:00 - 17:20 PDT
The Symmetry between Arms and Knapsacks: A Primal-Dual Approach for Bandits with Knapsacks

Xiaocheng Li · Chunlin Sun · Yinyu Ye

In this paper, we study the bandits with knapsacks (BwK) problem and develop a primal-dual based algorithm that achieves a problem-dependent logarithmic regret bound. The BwK problem extends the multi-arm bandit (MAB) problem to model the resource consumption, and the existing BwK literature has been mainly focused on deriving asymptotically optimal distribution-free regret bounds. We first study the primal and dual linear programs underlying the BwK problem. From this primal-dual perspective, we discover symmetry between arms and knapsacks, and then propose a new notion of suboptimality measure for the BwK problem. The suboptimality measure highlights the important role of knapsacks in determining algorithm regret and inspires the design of our two-phase algorithm. In the first phase, the algorithm identifies the optimal arms and the binding knapsacks, and in the second phase, it exhausts the binding knapsacks via playing the optimal arms through an adaptive procedure. Our regret upper bound involves the proposed suboptimality measure and it has a logarithmic dependence on length of horizon $T$ and a polynomial dependence on $m$ (the numbers of arms) and $d$ (the number of knapsacks). To the best of our knowledge, this is the first problem-dependent logarithmic regret bound for solving the general BwK problem.

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Wed 21 July 17:20 - 17:25 PDT
Dynamic Planning and Learning under Recovering Rewards

David Simchi-Levi · Zeyu Zheng · Feng Zhu

Motivated by emerging applications such as live-streaming e-commerce, promotions and recommendations, we introduce a general class of multi-armed bandit problems that have the following two features: (i) the decision maker can pull and collect rewards from at most $K$ out of $N$ different arms in each time period; (ii) the expected reward of an arm immediately drops after it is pulled, and then non-parametrically recovers as the idle time increases. With the objective of maximizing expected cumulative rewards over $T$ time periods, we propose, construct and prove performance guarantees for a class of ``Purely Periodic Policies''. For the offline problem when all model parameters are known, our proposed policy obtains an approximation ratio that is at the order of $1-\mathcal O(1/\sqrt{K})$, which is asymptotically optimal when $K$ grows to infinity. For the online problem when the model parameters are unknown and need to be learned, we design an Upper Confidence Bound (UCB) based policy that approximately has $\widetilde{\mathcal O}(N\sqrt{T}) regret against the offline benchmark. Our framework and policy design may have the potential to be adapted into other offline planning and online learning applications with non-stationary and recovering rewards.

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Wed 21 July 17:25 - 17:30 PDT
Best Arm Identification in Graphical Bilinear Bandits

Geovani Rizk · Albert Thomas · Igor Colin · Rida Laraki · Yann Chevaleyre

We introduce a new graphical bilinear bandit problem where a learner (or a \emph{central entity}) allocates arms to the nodes of a graph and observes for each edge a noisy bilinear reward representing the interaction between the two end nodes. We study the best arm identification problem in which the learner wants to find the graph allocation maximizing the sum of the bilinear rewards. By efficiently exploiting the geometry of this bandit problem, we propose a \emph{decentralized} allocation strategy based on random sampling with theoretical guarantees. In particular, we characterize the influence of the graph structure (e.g. star, complete or circle) on the convergence rate and propose empirical experiments that confirm this dependency.

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Wed 21 July 17:30 - 17:35 PDT
Achieving Near Instance-Optimality and Minimax-Optimality in Stochastic and Adversarial Linear Bandits Simultaneously

Chung-Wei Lee · Haipeng Luo · Chen-Yu Wei · Mengxiao Zhang · Xiaojin Zhang

In this work, we develop linear bandit algorithms that automatically adapt to different environments. By plugging a novel loss estimator into the optimization problem that characterizes the instance-optimal strategy, our first algorithm not only achieves nearly instance-optimal regret in stochastic environments, but also works in corrupted environments with additional regret being the amount of corruption, while the state-of-the-art (Li et al., 2019) achieves neither instance-optimality nor the optimal dependence on the corruption amount. Moreover, by equipping this algorithm with an adversarial component and carefully-designed testings, our second algorithm additionally enjoys minimax-optimal regret in completely adversarial environments, which is the first of this kind to our knowledge. Finally, all our guarantees hold with high probability, while existing instance-optimal guarantees only hold in expectation.

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Wed 21 July 17:35 - 17:40 PDT
Incentivized Bandit Learning with Self-Reinforcing User Preferences

Tianchen Zhou · Jia Liu · Chaosheng Dong · jingyuan deng

In this paper, we investigate a new multi-armed bandit (MAB) online learning model that considers real-world phenomena in many recommender systems: (i) the learning agent cannot pull the arms by itself and thus has to offer rewards to users to incentivize arm-pulling indirectly; and (ii) if users with specific arm preferences are well rewarded, they induce a "self-reinforcing" effect in the sense that they will attract more users of similar arm preferences. Besides addressing the tradeoff of exploration and exploitation, another key feature of this new MAB model is to balance reward and incentivizing payment. The goal of the agent is to maximize the total reward over a fixed time horizon $T$ with a low total payment. Our contributions in this paper are two-fold: (i) We propose a new MAB model with random arm selection that considers the relationship of users' self-reinforcing preferences and incentives; and (ii) We leverage the properties of a multi-color Polya urn with nonlinear feedback model to propose two MAB policies termed "At-Least-$n$ Explore-Then-Commit" and "UCB-List". We prove that both policies achieve $O(log T)$ expected regret with $O(log T)$ expected payment over a time horizon $T$. We conduct numerical simulations to demonstrate and verify the performances of these two policies and study their robustness under various settings.

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Wed 21 July 17:40 - 17:45 PDT
Approximation Theory Based Methods for RKHS Bandits

Sho Takemori · Masahiro Sato

The RKHS bandit problem (also called kernelized multi-armed bandit problem) is an online optimization problem of non-linear functions with noisy feedback. Although the problem has been extensively studied, there are unsatisfactory results for some problems compared to the well-studied linear bandit case. Specifically, there is no general algorithm for the adversarial RKHS bandit problem. In addition, high computational complexity of existing algorithms hinders practical application. We address these issues by considering a novel amalgamation of approximation theory and the misspecified linear bandit problem. Using an approximation method, we propose efficient algorithms for the stochastic RKHS bandit problem and the first general algorithm for the adversarial RKHS bandit problem. Furthermore, we empirically show that one of our proposed methods has comparable cumulative regret to IGP-UCB and its running time is much shorter.

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Wed 21 July 17:45 - 17:50 PDT
Dynamic Balancing for Model Selection in Bandits and RL

Ashok Cutkosky · Christoph Dann · Abhimanyu Das · Claudio Gentile · Aldo Pacchiano · Manish Purohit

We propose a framework for model selection by combining base algorithms in stochastic bandits and reinforcement learning. We require a candidate regret bound for each base algorithm that may or may not hold. We select base algorithms to play in each round using a ``balancing condition'' on the candidate regret bounds. Our approach simultaneously recovers previous worst-case regret bounds, while also obtaining much smaller regret in natural scenarios when some base learners significantly exceed their candidate bounds. Our framework is relevant in many settings, including linear bandits and MDPs with nested function classes, linear bandits with unknown misspecification, and tuning confidence parameters of algorithms such as LinUCB. Moreover, unlike recent efforts in model selection for linear stochastic bandits, our approach can be extended to consider adversarial rather than stochastic contexts.

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Wed 21 July 17:50 - 17:55 PDT

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