Conservative Exploration using Interleaving

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Sumeet Katariya, Branislav Kveton, Zheng Wen, Vamsi K. Potluru ;
Proceedings of Machine Learning Research, PMLR 89:954-963, 2019.

Abstract

In many practical problems, a learning agent may want to learn the best action in hindsight without ever taking a bad action, which is much worse than a default production action. In general, this is impossible because the agent has to explore unknown actions, some of which can be bad, to learn better actions. However, when the actions are structured, this is possible if the unknown action can be evaluated by interleaving it with the default action. We formalize this concept as learning in stochastic combinatorial semi-bandits with exchangeable actions. We design efficient learning algorithms for this problem, bound their n-step regret, and evaluate them on both synthetic and real-world problems. Our real-world experiments show that our algorithms can learn to recommend K most attractive movies without ever making disastrous recommendations, both overall and subject to a diversity constraint.

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