Thompson Sampling for Multinomial Logit Contextual Bandits

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32 (NeurIPS 2019)

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Min-hwan Oh, Garud Iyengar


We consider a dynamic assortment selection problem where the goal is to offer a sequence of assortments that maximizes the expected cumulative revenue, or alternatively, minimize the expected regret. The feedback here is the item that the user picks from the assortment. The distinguishing feature in this work is that this feedback has a multinomial logistic distribution. The utility of each item is a dynamic function of contextual information of both the item and the user. We propose two Thompson sampling algorithms for this multinomial logit contextual bandit. Our first algorithm maintains a posterior distribution of the true parameter and establishes $\tilde{O}(d\sqrt{T})$ Bayesian regret over $T$ rounds with $d$ dimensional context vector. The worst-case computational complexity of this algorithm could be high when the prior distribution is not a conjugate. The second algorithm approximates the posterior by a Gaussian distribution, and uses a new optimistic sampling procedure to address the issues that arise in worst-case regret analysis. This algorithm achieves $\tilde{O}(d^{3/2}\sqrt{T})$ worst-case (frequentist) regret bound. The numerical experiments show that the practical performance of both methods is in line with the theoretical guarantees.