From Finite to Countable-Armed Bandits

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 (NeurIPS 2020)

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Anand Kalvit, Assaf Zeevi


We consider a stochastic bandit problem with countably many arms that belong to a finite set of types, each characterized by a unique mean reward. In addition, there is a fixed distribution over types which sets the proportion of each type in the population of arms. The decision maker is oblivious to the type of any arm and to the aforementioned distribution over types, but perfectly knows the total number of types occurring in the population of arms. We propose a fully adaptive online learning algorithm that achieves O(log n) distribution-dependent expected cumulative regret after any number of plays n, and show that this order of regret is best possible. The analysis of our algorithm relies on newly discovered concentration and convergence properties of optimism-based policies like UCB in finite-armed bandit problems with zero gap, which may be of independent interest.