Robust Outlier Arm Identification

Jul 12, 2020

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We study the problem of Robust Outlier Arm Identification (ROAI), where the goal is to identify arms whose expected rewards deviate substantially from the majority, by adaptively sampling from their reward distributions. We compute the outlier threshold using the median and median absolute deviation of the expected rewards. This is a robust choice for the threshold compared to using the mean and standard deviation, since it can correctly identify all outlier arms even in the presence of extreme outlier values. Our setting is different from existing pure exploration problems where the threshold is pre-specified as a given value or rank. This is useful in applications where the goal is to identify the set of promising items but the cardinality of this set is unknown, such as finding promising drugs for a new disease or identifying items favored by a population. We propose two computationally efficient delta-PAC algorithms for ROAI, which includes the first UCB-style algorithm for outlier detection, and derive upper bounds on their sample complexity. We also prove a matching, up to logarithmic factors, worst case lower bound for the problem, indicating that our upper bounds are generally unimprovable. Experimental results show that our algorithms are both robust and at least 5x sample efficient compared to state-of-the-art.

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About ICML 2020

The International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML) is the premier gathering of professionals dedicated to the advancement of the branch of artificial intelligence known as machine learning. ICML is globally renowned for presenting and publishing cutting-edge research on all aspects of machine learning used in closely related areas like artificial intelligence, statistics and data science, as well as important application areas such as machine vision, computational biology, speech recognition, and robotics. ICML is one of the fastest growing artificial intelligence conferences in the world. Participants at ICML span a wide range of backgrounds, from academic and industrial researchers, to entrepreneurs and engineers, to graduate students and postdocs.

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