Sample complexity of partition identification using multi-armed bandits

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Sandeep Juneja, Subhashini Krishnasamy ;
Proceedings of the Thirty-Second Conference on Learning Theory, PMLR 99:1824-1852, 2019.

Abstract

Given a vector of probability distributions, or arms, each of which can be sampled independently, we consider the problem of identifying the partition to which this vector belongs from a finitely partitioned universe of such vector of distributions. We study this as a pure exploration problem in multi-armed bandit settings and develop sample complexity bounds on the total mean number of samples required for identifying the correct partition with high probability. This framework subsumes well studied problems such as finding the best arm or the best few arms. We consider distributions belonging to the single parameter exponential family and primarily consider partitions where the vector of means of arms lie either in a given set or its complement. The sets considered correspond to distributions where there exists a mean above a specified threshold, where the set is a half space and where either the set or its complement is a polytope, or more generally, a convex set. In these settings, we characterize the lower bounds on mean number of samples for each arm highlighting their dependence on the problem geometry. Further, inspired by the lower bounds, we propose algorithms that can match these bounds asymptotically with decreasing probability of error. Applications of this framework may be diverse. We briefly discuss a few associated with simulation in finance.

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