Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 35 (NeurIPS 2022) Main Conference Track
Parth Thaker, Mohit Malu, Nikhil Rao, Gautam Dasarathy
Pure exploration in multi-armed bandits has emerged as an important framework for modeling decision making and search under uncertainty. In modern applications however, one is often faced with a tremendously large number of options and even obtaining one observation per option may be too costly rendering traditional pure exploration algorithms ineffective. Fortunately, one often has access to similarity relationships amongst the options that can be leveraged. In this paper, we consider the pure exploration problem in stochastic multi-armed bandits where the similarities between the arms is captured by a graph and the rewards may be represented as a smooth signal on this graph. In particular, we consider the problem of finding the arm with the maximum reward (i.e., the maximizing problem) or one that has sufficiently high reward (i.e., the satisficing problem) under this model. We propose novel algorithms GRUB (GRaph based UcB) and zeta-GRUB for these problems and provide theoretical characterization of their performance which specifically elicits the benefit of the graph side information. We also prove a lower bound on the data requirement that shows a large class of problems where these algorithms are near-optimal. We complement our theory with experimental results that show the benefit of capitalizing on such side information.