Censored Semi-Bandits: A Framework for Resource Allocation with Censored Feedback

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32 (NeurIPS 2019)

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Arun Verma, Manjesh Hanawal, Arun Rajkumar, Raman Sankaran


In this paper, we study Censored Semi-Bandits, a novel variant of the semi-bandits problem. The learner is assumed to have a fixed amount of resources, which it allocates to the arms at each time step. The loss observed from an arm is random and depends on the amount of resources allocated to it. More specifically, the loss equals zero if the allocation for the arm exceeds a constant (but unknown) threshold that can be dependent on the arm. Our goal is to learn a feasible allocation that minimizes the expected loss. The problem is challenging because the loss distribution and threshold value of each arm are unknown. We study this novel setting by establishing its `equivalence' to Multiple-Play Multi-Armed Bandits (MP-MAB) and Combinatorial Semi-Bandits. Exploiting these equivalences, we derive optimal algorithms for our setting using existing algorithms for MP-MAB and Combinatorial Semi-Bandits. Experiments on synthetically generated data validate performance guarantees of the proposed algorithms.