Oral 4: Bandits / Reinforcement learning

Moderators: Dotan Di Castro · Jens Kober


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Mon 28 March 7:00 - 7:15 PDT

Optimal Rates of (Locally) Differentially Private Heavy-tailed Multi-Armed Bandits

Youming Tao · Yulian Wu · Peng Zhao · Di Wang

In this paper we investigate the problem of stochastic multi-armed bandits (MAB) in the (local) differential privacy (DP/LDP) model. Unlike previous results that assume bounded/sub-Gaussian reward distributions, we focus on the setting where each arm's reward distribution only has $(1+v)$-th moment with some $v\in (0, 1]$. In the first part, we study the problem in the central $\epsilon$-DP model. We first provide a near-optimal result by developing a private and robust Upper Confidence Bound (UCB) algorithm. Then, we improve the result via a private and robust version of the Successive Elimination (SE) algorithm. Finally, we establish the lower bound to show that the instance-dependent regret of our improved algorithm is optimal. In the second part, we study the problem in the $\epsilon$-LDP model. We propose an algorithm that can be seen as locally private and robust version of SE algorithm, which provably achieves (near) optimal rates for both instance-dependent and instance-independent regret. Our results reveal differences between the problem of private MAB with bounded/sub-Gaussian rewards and heavy-tailed rewards. To achieve these (near) optimal rates, we develop several new hard instances and private robust estimators as byproducts, which might be used to other related problems. Finally, experiments also support our theoretical findings and show the effectiveness of our algorithms.

Mon 28 March 7:15 - 7:30 PDT

Nonstochastic Bandits and Experts with Arm-Dependent Delays

Dirk van der Hoeven · Nicolò Cesa-Bianchi

We study nonstochastic bandits and experts in a delayed setting where delays depend on both time and arms. While the setting in which delays only depend on time has been extensively studied, the arm-dependent delay setting better captures real-world applications at the cost of introducing new technical challenges.In the full information (experts) setting, we design an algorithm with a first-order regret bound that reveals an interesting trade-off between delays and losses. We prove a similar first-order regret bound also for the bandit setting, when the learner is allowed to observe how many losses are missing.Our bounds are the first in the delayed setting that only depend on the losses and delays of the best arm.In the bandit setting, when no information other than the losses is observed, we still manage to prove a regret bound for bandits through a modification to the algorithm of \citet{zimmert2020optimal}.Our analyses hinge on a novel bound on the drift, measuring how much better an algorithm can perform when given a look-ahead of one round.

Mon 28 March 7:30 - 7:45 PDT

Towards Agnostic Feature-based Dynamic Pricing: Linear Policies vs Linear Valuation with Unknown Noise

Jianyu Xu · Yu-Xiang Wang

In feature-based dynamic pricing, a seller sets appropriate prices for a sequence of products (described by feature vectors) on the fly by learning from the binary outcomes of previous sales sessions ("Sold" if valuation $\geq$ price, and "Not Sold" otherwise). Existing works either assume noiseless linear valuation or precisely-known noise distribution, which limits the applicability of those algorithms in practice when these assumptions are hard to verify. In this work, we study two more agnostic models: (a) a "linear policy" problem where we aim at competing with the best linear pricing policy while making no assumptions on the data, and (b) a "linear noisy valuation" problem where the random valuation is linear plus an unknown and assumption-free noise. For the former model, we show a $\Theta(d^{1/3}T^{2/3})$ minimax regret up to logarithmic factors. For the latter model, we present an algorithm that achieves an $O(T^{3/4})$ regret and improve the best-known lower bound from $Omega(T^{3/5})$ to $\Omega(T^{2/3})$. These results demonstrate that no-regret learning is possible for feature-based dynamic pricing under weak assumptions, but also reveal a disappointing fact that the seemingly richer pricing feedback is not significantly more useful than the bandit-feedback in regret reduction.

Mon 28 March 7:45 - 8:00 PDT

Best Paper Award Nomination
Towards an Understanding of Default Policies in Multitask Policy Optimization

Ted Moskovitz · Michael Arbel · Jack Parker-Holder · Aldo Pacchiano

Much of the recent success of deep reinforcement learning has been driven by regularized policy optimization (RPO) algorithms with strong performance across multiple domains. In this family of methods, agents are trained to maximize cumulative reward while penalizing deviation in behavior from some reference, or default policy. In addition to empirical success, there is a strong theoretical foundation for understanding RPO methods applied to single tasks, with connections to natural gradient, trust region, and variational approaches. However, there is limited formal understanding of desirable properties for default policies in the multitask setting, an increasingly important domain as the field shifts towards training more generally capable agents. Here, we take a first step towards filling this gap by formally linking the quality of the default policy to its effect on optimization. Using these results, we then derive a principled RPO algorithm for multitask learning with strong performance guarantees.