Regret Analysis of Bandit Problems with Causal Background Knowledge

Yangyi Lu, Amirhossein Meisami, Ambuj Tewari, William Yan
Proceedings of the 36th Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence (UAI), PMLR 124:141-150, 2020.

Abstract

We study how to learn optimal interventions sequentially given causal information represented as a causal graph along with associated conditional distributions. Causal modeling is useful in real world problems like online advertisement where complex causal mechanisms underlie the relationship between interventions and outcomes. We propose two algorithms, causal upper confidence bound (C-UCB) and causal Thompson Sampling (C-TS), that enjoy improved cumulative regret bounds compared with algorithms that do not use causal information. We thus resolve an open problem posed by Lattimore et al. (2016). Further, we extend C-UCB and C-TS to the linear bandit setting and propose causal linear UCB (CL-UCB) and causal linear TS (CL-TS) algorithms. These algorithms enjoy a cumulative regret bound that only scales with the feature dimension. Our experiments show the benefit of using causal information. For example, we observe that even with a few hundreds of iterations, the regret of causal algorithms is less than that of standard algorithms by a factor of three. We also show that under certain causal structures, our algorithms scale better than the standard bandit algorithms as the number of interventions increases.

Cite this Paper


BibTeX
@InProceedings{pmlr-v124-lu20a, title = {Regret Analysis of Bandit Problems with Causal Background Knowledge}, author = {Lu, Yangyi and Meisami, Amirhossein and Tewari, Ambuj and Yan, William}, booktitle = {Proceedings of the 36th Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence (UAI)}, pages = {141--150}, year = {2020}, editor = {Jonas Peters and David Sontag}, volume = {124}, series = {Proceedings of Machine Learning Research}, month = {03--06 Aug}, publisher = {PMLR}, pdf = {http://proceedings.mlr.press/v124/lu20a/lu20a.pdf}, url = { http://proceedings.mlr.press/v124/lu20a.html }, abstract = {We study how to learn optimal interventions sequentially given causal information represented as a causal graph along with associated conditional distributions. Causal modeling is useful in real world problems like online advertisement where complex causal mechanisms underlie the relationship between interventions and outcomes. We propose two algorithms, causal upper confidence bound (C-UCB) and causal Thompson Sampling (C-TS), that enjoy improved cumulative regret bounds compared with algorithms that do not use causal information. We thus resolve an open problem posed by Lattimore et al. (2016). Further, we extend C-UCB and C-TS to the linear bandit setting and propose causal linear UCB (CL-UCB) and causal linear TS (CL-TS) algorithms. These algorithms enjoy a cumulative regret bound that only scales with the feature dimension. Our experiments show the benefit of using causal information. For example, we observe that even with a few hundreds of iterations, the regret of causal algorithms is less than that of standard algorithms by a factor of three. We also show that under certain causal structures, our algorithms scale better than the standard bandit algorithms as the number of interventions increases.} }
Endnote
%0 Conference Paper %T Regret Analysis of Bandit Problems with Causal Background Knowledge %A Yangyi Lu %A Amirhossein Meisami %A Ambuj Tewari %A William Yan %B Proceedings of the 36th Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence (UAI) %C Proceedings of Machine Learning Research %D 2020 %E Jonas Peters %E David Sontag %F pmlr-v124-lu20a %I PMLR %P 141--150 %U http://proceedings.mlr.press/v124/lu20a.html %V 124 %X We study how to learn optimal interventions sequentially given causal information represented as a causal graph along with associated conditional distributions. Causal modeling is useful in real world problems like online advertisement where complex causal mechanisms underlie the relationship between interventions and outcomes. We propose two algorithms, causal upper confidence bound (C-UCB) and causal Thompson Sampling (C-TS), that enjoy improved cumulative regret bounds compared with algorithms that do not use causal information. We thus resolve an open problem posed by Lattimore et al. (2016). Further, we extend C-UCB and C-TS to the linear bandit setting and propose causal linear UCB (CL-UCB) and causal linear TS (CL-TS) algorithms. These algorithms enjoy a cumulative regret bound that only scales with the feature dimension. Our experiments show the benefit of using causal information. For example, we observe that even with a few hundreds of iterations, the regret of causal algorithms is less than that of standard algorithms by a factor of three. We also show that under certain causal structures, our algorithms scale better than the standard bandit algorithms as the number of interventions increases.
APA
Lu, Y., Meisami, A., Tewari, A. & Yan, W.. (2020). Regret Analysis of Bandit Problems with Causal Background Knowledge. Proceedings of the 36th Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence (UAI), in Proceedings of Machine Learning Research 124:141-150 Available from http://proceedings.mlr.press/v124/lu20a.html .

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