Thompson Sampling for (Combinatorial) Pure Exploration

Siwei Wang · Jun Zhu

Room 309

Existing methods of combinatorial pure exploration mainly focus on the UCB approach. To make the algorithm efficient, they usually use the sum of upper confidence bounds within arm set $S$ to represent the upper confidence bound of $S$, which can be much larger than the tight upper confidence bound of $S$ and leads to a much higher complexity than necessary, since the empirical means of different arms in $S$ are independent. To deal with this challenge, we explore the idea of Thompson Sampling (TS) that uses independent random samples instead of the upper confidence bounds, and design the first TS-based algorithm TS-Explore for (combinatorial) pure exploration. In TS-Explore, the sum of independent random samples within arm set $S$ will not exceed the tight upper confidence bound of $S$ with high probability. Hence it solves the above challenge, and achieves a lower complexity upper bound than existing efficient UCB-based algorithms in general combinatorial pure exploration. As for pure exploration of classic multi-armed bandit, we show that TS-Explore achieves an asymptotically optimal complexity upper bound.

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