On Sequential Elimination Algorithms for Best-Arm Identification in Multi-Armed Bandits


Journal Article

© 1991-2012 IEEE. We consider the best-arm identification problem in multi-armed bandits, which focuses purely on exploration. A player is given a fixed budget to explore a finite set of arms, and the rewards of each arm are drawn independently from a fixed, unknown distribution. The player aims to identify the arm with the largest expected reward. We propose a general framework to unify sequential elimination algorithms, where the arms are dismissed iteratively until a unique arm is left. Our analysis reveals a novel performance measure expressed in terms of the sampling mechanism and number of eliminated arms at each round. Based on this result, we develop an algorithm that divides the budget according to a nonlinear function of remaining arms at each round. We provide theoretical guarantees for the algorithm, characterizing the suitable nonlinearity for different problem environments described by the number of competitive arms. Matching the theoretical results, our experiments show that the nonlinear algorithm outperforms the state-of-the-art. We finally study the side-observation model, where pulling an arm reveals the rewards of its related arms, and we establish improved theoretical guarantees in the pure-exploration setting.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Shahrampour, S; Noshad, M; Tarokh, V

Published Date

  • August 15, 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 65 / 16

Start / End Page

  • 4281 - 4292

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1053-587X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1109/TSP.2017.2706192

Citation Source

  • Scopus