Best-of-K-bandits

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Max Simchowitz, Kevin Jamieson, Benjamin Recht ;
29th Annual Conference on Learning Theory, PMLR 49:1440-1489, 2016.

Abstract

This paper studies the Best-of-K Bandit game: At each time the player chooses a subset S among all N-choose-K possible options and observes reward max(X(i) : i in S) where X is a random vector drawn from a joint distribution. The objective is to identify the subset that achieves the highest expected reward with high probability using as few queries as possible. We present distribution-dependent lower bounds based on a particular construction which force a learner to consider all N-choose-K subsets, and match naive extensions of known upper bounds in the bandit setting obtained by treating each subset as a separate arm. Nevertheless, we present evidence that exhaustive search may be avoided for certain, favorable distributions because the influence of high-order order correlations may be dominated by lower order statistics. Finally, we present an algorithm and analysis for independent arms, which mitigates the surprising non-trivial information occlusion that occurs due to only observing the max in the subset. This may inform strategies for more general dependent measures, and we complement these result with independent-arm lower bounds.

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