Best Arm Identification in Rare EventsDownload PDF

Published: 08 May 2023, Last Modified: 26 Jun 2023UAI 2023Readers: Everyone
Keywords: multi-armed bandits, best arm identification, rare events, poisson approximation
TL;DR: We consider bandit problems where arms return rewards sporadically, and examine interesting approximations that speed up existing best arm algorithms.
Abstract: We consider the Best Arm Identification (BAI) problem in the stochastic multi-armed bandit framework, where each arm has a small probability of realizing large rewards, while with overwhelming probability, the reward is zero. A key application of this framework is in online advertising, where click rates of advertisements could be a fraction of a single percent and final conversion to sales, while highly profitable, may again be a small fraction of the click rates. Lately, algorithms for BAI problems have been developed that minimise sample complexity while providing statistical guarantees on the correct arm selection. As we observe, these algorithms can be computationally prohibitive. We exploit the fact that the reward process for each arm is well approximated by a Compound Poisson process and arrive at algorithms that are faster, with a small increase in sample complexity. We analyze the problem in an asymptotic regime as rarity of reward occurrence reduces to zero, and reward amounts increase to infinity. This helps illustrate the benefits of the proposed algorithm. It also sheds light on the underlying structure of the optimal BAI algorithms in the rare event setting.
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