First- and Second-Order Bounds for Adversarial Linear Contextual Bandits

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Julia Olkhovskaya, Jack Mayo, Tim van Erven, Gergely Neu, Chen-Yu Wei


We consider the adversarial linear contextual bandit setting, whichallows for the loss functions associated with each of $K$ arms to changeover time without restriction. Assuming the $d$-dimensional contexts aredrawn from a fixed known distribution, the worst-case expected regretover the course of $T$ rounds is known to scale as $\tilde O(\sqrt{KdT})$. Under the additional assumption that the density of the contextsis log-concave, we obtain a second-order bound of order $\tildeO(K\sqrt{d V_T})$ in terms of the cumulative second moment of thelearner's losses $V_T$, and a closely related first-order bound of order$\tilde O(K\sqrt{d L_T^*})$ in terms of the cumulative loss of the bestpolicy $L_T^*$. Since $V_T$ or $L_T^*$ may be significantly smaller than$T$, these improve over the worst-case regret whenever the environmentis relatively benign. Our results are obtained using a truncated versionof the continuous exponential weights algorithm over the probabilitysimplex, which we analyse by exploiting a novel connection to the linearbandit setting without contexts.