Transportability for Bandits with Data from Different Environments

Alexis Bellot · Alan Malek · Silvia Chiappa

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #925
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Wed 13 Dec 3 p.m. PST — 5 p.m. PST


A unifying theme in the design of intelligent agents is to efficiently optimize a policy based on what prior knowledge of the problem is available and what actions can be taken to learn more about it. Bandits are a canonical instance of this task that has been intensely studied in the literature. Most methods, however, typically rely solely on an agent's experimentation in a single environment (or multiple closely related environments). In this paper, we relax this assumption and consider the design of bandit algorithms from a combination of batch data and qualitative assumptions about the relatedness across different environments, represented in the form of causal models. In particular, we show that it is possible to exploit invariances across environments, wherever they may occur in the underlying causal model, to consistently improve learning. The resulting bandit algorithm has a sub-linear regret bound with an explicit dependency on a term that captures how informative related environments are for the task at hand; and may have substantially lower regret than experimentation-only bandit instances.

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