Adapting to misspecification in contextual bandits with offline regression oracles

02/26/2021 ∙ by Sanath Kumar Krishnamurthy, et al. ∙ 9

Computationally efficient contextual bandits are often based on estimating a predictive model of rewards given contexts and arms using past data. However, when the reward model is not well-specified, the bandit algorithm may incur unexpected regret, so recent work has focused on algorithms that are robust to misspecification. We propose a simple family of contextual bandit algorithms that adapt to misspecification error by reverting to a good safe policy when there is evidence that misspecification is causing a regret increase. Our algorithm requires only an offline regression oracle to ensure regret guarantees that gracefully degrade in terms of a measure of the average misspecification level. Compared to prior work, we attain similar regret guarantees, but we do no rely on a master algorithm, and do not require more robust oracles like online or constrained regression oracles (e.g., Foster et al. (2020a); Krishnamurthy et al. (2020)). This allows us to design algorithms for more general function approximation classes.

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