Proceedings of the 38th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 139:5884-5893, 2021.
Efficient exploration in bandits is a fundamental online learning problem. We propose a variant of Thompson sampling that learns to explore better as it interacts with bandit instances drawn from an unknown prior. The algorithm meta-learns the prior and thus we call it MetaTS. We propose several efficient implementations of MetaTS and analyze it in Gaussian bandits. Our analysis shows the benefit of meta-learning and is of a broader interest, because we derive a novel prior-dependent Bayes regret bound for Thompson sampling. Our theory is complemented by empirical evaluation, which shows that MetaTS quickly adapts to the unknown prior.