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Efficient Thompson Sampling for Online Matrix-Factorization Recommendation

Neural Information Processing Systems

Matrix factorization (MF) collaborative filtering is an effective and widely used method in recommendation systems. However, the problem of finding an optimal trade-off between exploration and exploitation (otherwise known as the bandit problem), a crucial problem in collaborative filtering from cold-start, has not been previously addressed.In this paper, we present a novel algorithm for online MF recommendation that automatically combines finding the most relevantitems with exploring new or less-recommended items.Our approach, called Particle Thompson Sampling for Matrix-Factorization, is based on the general Thompson sampling framework, but augmented with a novel efficient online Bayesian probabilistic matrix factorization method based on the Rao-Blackwellized particle filter.Extensive experiments in collaborative filtering using several real-world datasets demonstrate that our proposed algorithm significantly outperforms the current state-of-the-arts.


Thompson Sampling for Complex Bandit Problems

arXiv.org Machine Learning

We consider stochastic multi-armed bandit problems with complex actions over a set of basic arms, where the decision maker plays a complex action rather than a basic arm in each round. The reward of the complex action is some function of the basic arms' rewards, and the feedback observed may not necessarily be the reward per-arm. For instance, when the complex actions are subsets of the arms, we may only observe the maximum reward over the chosen subset. Thus, feedback across complex actions may be coupled due to the nature of the reward function. We prove a frequentist regret bound for Thompson sampling in a very general setting involving parameter, action and observation spaces and a likelihood function over them. The bound holds for discretely-supported priors over the parameter space and without additional structural properties such as closed-form posteriors, conjugate prior structure or independence across arms. The regret bound scales logarithmically with time but, more importantly, with an improved constant that non-trivially captures the coupling across complex actions due to the structure of the rewards. As applications, we derive improved regret bounds for classes of complex bandit problems involving selecting subsets of arms, including the first nontrivial regret bounds for nonlinear MAX reward feedback from subsets.


Prior-free and prior-dependent regret bounds for Thompson Sampling

Neural Information Processing Systems

We consider the stochastic multi-armed bandit problem with a prior distribution on the reward distributions. We are interested in studying prior-free and prior-dependent regret bounds, very much in the same spirit than the usual distribution-free and distribution-dependent bounds for the non-Bayesian stochastic bandit. We first show that Thompson Sampling attains an optimal prior-free bound in the sense that for any prior distribution its Bayesian regret is bounded from above by $14 \sqrt{n K}$. This result is unimprovable in the sense that there exists a prior distribution such that any algorithm has a Bayesian regret bounded from below by $\frac{1}{20} \sqrt{n K}$. We also study the case of priors for the setting of Bubeck et al. [2013] (where the optimal mean is known as well as a lower bound on the smallest gap) and we show that in this case the regret of Thompson Sampling is in fact uniformly bounded over time, thus showing that Thompson Sampling can greatly take advantage of the nice properties of these priors.


Prior-free and prior-dependent regret bounds for Thompson Sampling

arXiv.org Machine Learning

We consider the stochastic multi-armed bandit problem with a prior distribution on the reward distributions. We are interested in studying prior-free and prior-dependent regret bounds, very much in the same spirit as the usual distribution-free and distribution-dependent bounds for the non-Bayesian stochastic bandit. Building on the techniques of Audibert and Bubeck [2009] and Russo and Roy [2013] we first show that Thompson Sampling attains an optimal prior-free bound in the sense that for any prior distribution its Bayesian regret is bounded from above by $14 \sqrt{n K}$. This result is unimprovable in the sense that there exists a prior distribution such that any algorithm has a Bayesian regret bounded from below by $\frac{1}{20} \sqrt{n K}$. We also study the case of priors for the setting of Bubeck et al. [2013] (where the optimal mean is known as well as a lower bound on the smallest gap) and we show that in this case the regret of Thompson Sampling is in fact uniformly bounded over time, thus showing that Thompson Sampling can greatly take advantage of the nice properties of these priors.


Further Optimal Regret Bounds for Thompson Sampling

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Thompson Sampling is one of the oldest heuristics for multi-armed bandit problems. It is a randomized algorithm based on Bayesian ideas, and has recently generated significant interest after several studies demonstrated it to have better empirical performance compared to the state of the art methods. In this paper, we provide a novel regret analysis for Thompson Sampling that simultaneously proves both the optimal problem-dependent bound of $(1+\epsilon)\sum_i \frac{\ln T}{\Delta_i}+O(\frac{N}{\epsilon^2})$ and the first near-optimal problem-independent bound of $O(\sqrt{NT\ln T})$ on the expected regret of this algorithm. Our near-optimal problem-independent bound solves a COLT 2012 open problem of Chapelle and Li. The optimal problem-dependent regret bound for this problem was first proven recently by Kaufmann et al. [ALT 2012]. Our novel martingale-based analysis techniques are conceptually simple, easily extend to distributions other than the Beta distribution, and also extend to the more general contextual bandits setting [Manuscript, Agrawal and Goyal, 2012].