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Gaussian Process Bandit Optimization with Few Batches

Zihan Li · Jonathan Scarlett


Abstract: In this paper, we consider the problem of black-box optimization using Gaussian Process (GP) bandit optimization with a small number of batches. Assuming the unknown function has a low norm in the Reproducing Kernel Hilbert Space (RKHS), we introduce a batch algorithm inspired by batched finite-arm bandit algorithms, and show that it achieves the cumulative regret upper bound $O^\ast(\sqrt{T\gamma_T})$ using $O(\log\log T)$ batches within time horizon $T$, where the $O^\ast(\cdot)$ notation hides dimension-independent logarithmic factors and $\gamma_T$ is the maximum information gain associated with the kernel. This bound is near-optimal for several kernels of interest and improves on the typical $O^\ast(\sqrt{T}\gamma_T)$ bound, and our approach is arguably the simplest among algorithms attaining this improvement. In addition, in the case of a constant number of batches (not depending on $T$), we propose a modified version of our algorithm, and characterize how the regret is impacted by the number of batches, focusing on the squared exponential and Mat\'ern kernels. The algorithmic upper bounds are shown to be nearly minimax optimal via analogous algorithm-independent lower bounds.

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