Efficient Pure Exploration for Combinatorial Bandits with Semi-Bandit Feedback


Combinatorial bandits with semi-bandit feedback generalize multi-armed bandits, where the agent chooses sets of arms and observes a noisy reward for each arm contained in the chosen set. The action set satisfies a given structure such as forming a base of a matroid or a path in a graph. We focus on the pure-exploration problem of identifying the best arm with fixed confidence, as well as a more general setting, where the structure of the answer set differs from the one of the action set. Using the recently popularized game framework, we interpret this problem as a sequential zero-sum game and develop a CombGame meta-algorithm whose instances are asymptotically optimal algorithms with finite time guarantees. In addition to comparing two families of learners to instantiate our meta-algorithm, the main contribution of our work is a specific oracle efficient instance for best-arm identification with combinatorial actions. Based on a projection-free online learning algorithm for convex polytopes, it is the first computationally efficient algorithm which is asymptotically optimal and has competitive empirical performance.

Proceedings of the 32nd International Conference on Algorithmic Learning Theory (ALT)