Fixed-Budget Best-Arm Identification with Heterogeneous Reward Variances
Proceedings of the Thirty-Ninth Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence, PMLR 216:1164-1173, 2023.
We study the problem of best-arm identification (BAI) in the fixed-budget setting with heterogeneous reward variances. We propose two variance-adaptive BAI algorithms for this setting: SHVar for known reward variances and SHAdaVar for unknown reward variances. Our algorithms rely on non-uniform budget allocations among the arms where the arms with higher reward variances are pulled more often than those with lower variances. The main algorithmic novelty is in the design of SHAdaVar, which allocates budget greedily based on overestimating the unknown reward variances. We bound probabilities of misidentifying the best arms in both SHVar and SHAdaVar. Our analyses rely on novel lower bounds on the number of pulls of an arm that do not require closed-form solutions to the budget allocation problem. Since one of our budget allocation problems is analogous to the optimal experiment design with unknown variances, we believe that our results are of a broad interest. Our experiments validate our theory, and show that SHVar and SHAdaVar outperform algorithms from prior works with analytical guarantees.