Linear Stochastic Bandits over a Bit-Constrained Channel
Proceedings of The 5th Annual Learning for Dynamics and Control Conference, PMLR 211:1387-1399, 2023.
One of the primary challenges in large-scale distributed learning stems from stringent communication constraints. While several recent works address this challenge for static optimization problems, sequential decision-making under uncertainty has remained much less explored in this regard. Motivated by this gap, we introduce a new linear stochastic bandit formulation over a bit-constrained channel. Specifically, in our setup, an agent interacting with an environment transmits encoded estimates of an unknown model parameter to a server over a communication channel of finite capacity. The goal of the server is to take actions based on these estimates to minimize cumulative regret. To this end, we develop a novel and general algorithmic framework that hinges on two main components: (i) an adaptive encoding mechanism that exploits statistical concentration bounds, and (ii) a decision-making principle based on confidence sets that account for encoding errors. As our main result, we prove that when the unknown model is $d$-dimensional, a channel capacity of $O(d)$ bits suffices to achieve order-optimal regret. We also establish that for the simpler unstructured multi-armed bandit problem, $1$ bit channel capacity is sufficient for achieving optimal regret bounds.