Misspecified Gaussian Process Bandit Optimization

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 (NeurIPS 2021)

Bibtex Paper Reviews And Public Comment » Supplemental


Ilija Bogunovic, Andreas Krause


We consider the problem of optimizing a black-box function based on noisy bandit feedback. Kernelized bandit algorithms have shown strong empirical and theoretical performance for this problem. They heavily rely on the assumption that the model is well-specified, however, and can fail without it. Instead, we introduce and address a \emph{misspecified} kernelized bandit setting where the unknown function can be $\epsilon$--uniformly approximated by a function with a bounded norm in some Reproducing Kernel Hilbert Space (RKHS). We design efficient and practical algorithms whose performance degrades minimally in the presence of model misspecification. Specifically, we present two algorithms based on Gaussian process (GP) methods: an optimistic EC-GP-UCB algorithm that requires knowing the misspecification error, and Phased GP Uncertainty Sampling, an elimination-type algorithm that can adapt to unknown model misspecification. We provide upper bounds on their cumulative regret in terms of $\epsilon$, the time horizon, and the underlying kernel, and we show that our algorithm achieves optimal dependence on $\epsilon$ with no prior knowledge of misspecification. In addition, in a stochastic contextual setting, we show that EC-GP-UCB can be effectively combined with the regret bound balancing strategy and attain similar regret bounds despite not knowing $\epsilon$.