Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 (NeurIPS 2021)
Reda Ouhamma, Odalric-Ambrym Maillard, Vianney Perchet
In the fixed budget thresholding bandit problem, an algorithm sequentially allocates a budgeted number of samples to different distributions. It then predicts whether the mean of each distribution is larger or lower than a given threshold. We introduce a large family of algorithms (containing most existing relevant ones), inspired by the Frank-Wolfe algorithm, and provide a thorough yet generic analysis of their performance. This allowed us to construct new explicit algorithms, for a broad class of problems, whose losses are within a small constant factor of the non-adaptive oracle ones. Quite interestingly, we observed that adaptive methodsempirically greatly out-perform non-adaptive oracles, an uncommon behavior in standard online learning settings, such as regret minimization. We explain this surprising phenomenon on an insightful toy problem.