Design of Experiments for Stochastic Contextual Linear Bandits

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

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Andrea Zanette, Kefan Dong, Jonathan N Lee, Emma Brunskill


In the stochastic linear contextual bandit setting there exist several minimax procedures for exploration with policies that are reactive to the data being acquired. In practice, there can be a significant engineering overhead to deploy these algorithms, especially when the dataset is collected in a distributed fashion or when a human in the loop is needed to implement a different policy. Exploring with a single non-reactive policy is beneficial in such cases. Assuming some batch contexts are available, we design a single stochastic policy to collect a good dataset from which a near-optimal policy can be extracted. We present a theoretical analysis as well as numerical experiments on both synthetic and real-world datasets.