Bandits with Costly Reward ObservationsDownload PDF

Published: 08 May 2023, Last Modified: 26 Jun 2023UAI 2023Readers: Everyone
Keywords: bandits, value of information, contextual bandits, upper confidence bounds
TL;DR: We provide algorithms, a regret lower bound, and experiments (synthetic and real data) for bandit problems where you need to pay a cost to observe the reward.
Abstract: Many machine learning applications rely on large datasets that are conveniently collected from existing sources or that are labeled automatically as a by-product of user actions. However, in settings such as content moderation, accurately and reliably labeled data comes at substantial cost. If a learning algorithm has to pay for reward information, for example by asking a human for feedback, how does this change the exploration/exploitation tradeoff? We study this question in the context of bandit learning. Specifically, we investigate Bandits with Costly Reward Observations, where a cost needs to be paid in order to observe the reward of the bandit's action. We show that the observation cost implies an $\Omega(c^{1/3}T^{2/3})$ lower bound on the regret. Furthermore, we develop a general non-adaptive bandit algorithm which matches this lower bound, and we present several competitive adaptive learning algorithms for both k-armed and contextual bandits.
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