Thompson Sampling Algorithms for Mean-Variance Bandits

Jul 12, 2020

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The multi-armed bandit (MAB) problem is a classical learning task that exemplifies the exploration-exploitation tradeoff. However, standard formulations do not take into account risk. In online decision making systems, risk is a primary concern. In this regard, the mean-variance risk measure is one of the most common objective functions. Existing algorithms for mean-variance optimization in the context of MAB problems have unrealistic assumptions on the reward distributions. We develop Thompson Sampling-style algorithms for mean-variance MAB and provide comprehensive regret analyses for Gaussian and Bernoulli bandits with fewer assumptions. Our algorithms achieve the best known regret bounds for mean-variance MABs and also attain the information-theoretic bounds in some parameter regimes. Empirical simulations show that our algorithms significantly outperform existing LCB-based algorithms for all risk tolerances.

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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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