Thompson Sampling for the MNL-Bandit

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Shipra Agrawal, Vashist Avadhanula, Vineet Goyal, Assaf Zeevi ;
Proceedings of the 2017 Conference on Learning Theory, PMLR 65:76-78, 2017.

Abstract

We consider a sequential subset selection problem under parameter uncertainty, where at each time step, the decision maker selects a subset of cardinality $K$ from $N$ possible items (arms), and observes a (bandit) feedback in the form of the index of one of the items in said subset, or none. Each item in the index set is ascribed a certain value (reward), and the feedback is governed by a Multinomial Logit (MNL) choice model whose parameters are a priori unknown. The objective of the decision maker is to maximize the expected cumulative rewards over a finite horizon $T$, or alternatively, minimize the regret relative to an oracle that knows the MNL parameters. We refer to this as the MNL-Bandit problem. This problem is representative of a larger family of exploration-exploitation problems that involve a combinatorial objective, and arise in several important application domains. We present an approach to adapt Thompson Sampling to this problem and show that it achieves near-optimal regret as well as attractive numerical performance.

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