Factored Bandits

Neural Information Processing Systems

We introduce the factored bandits model, which is a framework for learning with limited (bandit) feedback, where actions can be decomposed into a Cartesian product of atomic actions. Factored bandits incorporate rank-1 bandits as a special case, but significantly relax the assumptions on the form of the reward function. We provide an anytime algorithm for stochastic factored bandits and up to constants matching upper and lower regret bounds for the problem. Furthermore, we show that with a slight modification the proposed algorithm can be applied to utility based dueling bandits. We obtain an improvement in the additive terms of the regret bound compared to state of the art algorithms (the additive terms are dominating up to time horizons which are exponential in the number of arms).


Corralling a Band of Bandit Algorithms

arXiv.org Machine Learning

We study the problem of combining multiple bandit algorithms (that is, online learning algorithms with partial feedback) with the goal of creating a master algorithm that performs almost as well as the best base algorithm if it were to be run on its own. The main challenge is that when run with a master, base algorithms unavoidably receive much less feedback and it is thus critical that the master not starve a base algorithm that might perform uncompetitively initially but would eventually outperform others if given enough feedback. We address this difficulty by devising a version of Online Mirror Descent with a special mirror map together with a sophisticated learning rate scheme. We show that this approach manages to achieve a more delicate balance between exploiting and exploring base algorithms than previous works yielding superior regret bounds. Our results are applicable to many settings, such as multi-armed bandits, contextual bandits, and convex bandits. As examples, we present two main applications. The first is to create an algorithm that enjoys worst-case robustness while at the same time performing much better when the environment is relatively easy. The second is to create an algorithm that works simultaneously under different assumptions of the environment, such as different priors or different loss structures.


Misspecified Linear Bandits

AAAI Conferences

We consider the problem of online learning in misspecified linear stochastic multi-armed bandit problems. Regret guarantees for state-of-the-art linear bandit algorithms such as Optimism in the Face of Uncertainty Linear bandit (OFUL) hold under the assumption that the arms expected rewards are perfectly linear in their features. It is, however, of interest to investigate the impact of potential misspecification in linear bandit models, where the expected rewards are perturbed away from the linear subspace determined by the arms features. Although OFUL has recently been shown to be robust to relatively small deviations from linearity, we show that any linear bandit algorithm that enjoys optimal regret performance in the perfectly linear setting (e.g., OFUL) must suffer linear regret under a sparse additive perturbation of the linear model. In an attempt to overcome this negative result,we define a natural class of bandit models characterized by a non-sparse deviation from linearity. We argue that the OFUL algorithm can fail to achieve sublinear regret even under models that have non-sparse deviation. We finally develop a novel bandit algorithm, comprising a hypothesis test for linearity followed by a decision to use either the OFUL or Upper Confidence Bound (UCB) algorithm. For perfectly linear bandit models, the algorithm provably exhibits OFULs favorable regret performance, while for misspecified models satisfying the non-sparse deviation property, the algorithm avoids the linear regret phenomenon and falls back on UCBs sublinear regret scaling. Numerical experiments on synthetic data, and on recommendation data from the public Yahoo! Learning toRank Challenge dataset, empirically support our findings.


Weighted bandits or: How bandits learn distorted values that are not expected

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Motivated by models of human decision making proposed to explain commonly observed deviations from conventional expected value preferences, we formulate two stochastic multi-armed bandit problems with distorted probabilities on the cost distributions: the classic $K$-armed bandit and the linearly parameterized bandit. In both settings, we propose algorithms that are inspired by Upper Confidence Bound (UCB), incorporate cost distortions, and exhibit sublinear regret assuming \holder continuous weight distortion functions. For the $K$-armed setting, we show that the algorithm, called W-UCB, achieves problem-dependent regret $O(L^2 M^2 \log n/ \Delta^{\frac{2}{\alpha}-1})$, where $n$ is the number of plays, $\Delta$ is the gap in distorted expected value between the best and next best arm, $L$ and $\alpha$ are the H\"{o}lder constants for the distortion function, and $M$ is an upper bound on costs, and a problem-independent regret bound of $O((KL^2M^2)^{\alpha/2}n^{(2-\alpha)/2})$. We also present a matching lower bound on the regret, showing that the regret of W-UCB is essentially unimprovable over the class of H\"{o}lder-continuous weight distortions. For the linearly parameterized setting, we develop a new algorithm, a variant of the Optimism in the Face of Uncertainty Linear bandit (OFUL) algorithm called WOFUL (Weight-distorted OFUL), and show that it has regret $O(d\sqrt{n} \; \mbox{polylog}(n))$ with high probability, for sub-Gaussian cost distributions. Finally, numerical examples demonstrate the advantages resulting from using distortion-aware learning algorithms.


Warm-starting Contextual Bandits: Robustly Combining Supervised and Bandit Feedback

arXiv.org Machine Learning

We investigate the feasibility of learning from both fully-labeled supervised data and contextual bandit data. We specifically consider settings in which the underlying learning signal may be different between these two data sources. Theoretically, we state and prove no-regret algorithms for learning that is robust to divergences between the two sources. Empirically, we evaluate some of these algorithms on a large selection of datasets, showing that our approaches are feasible, and helpful in practice.