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Learning Neural Contextual Bandits through Perturbed Rewards

Yiling Jia · Weitong ZHANG · Dongruo Zhou · Quanquan Gu · Hongning Wang

Abstract: Thanks to the power of representation learning, neural contextual bandit algorithms demonstrate remarkable performance improvement against their classical counterparts. But because their exploration has to be performed in the entire neural network parameter space to obtain nearly optimal regret, the resulting computational cost is prohibitively high. We propose to perturb the rewards when updating the neural network to eliminate the need of explicit exploration and the corresponding computational overhead. We prove that a $\tilde{O}(\tilde{d}\sqrt{T})$ regret upper bound is still achievable under standard regularity conditions, where $T$ is the number of rounds of interactions and $\tilde{d}$ is the effective dimension of a neural tangent kernel matrix. Extensive comparisons with several benchmark contextual bandit algorithms, including two recent neural contextual bandit models, demonstrate the effectiveness and computational efficiency of our proposed neural bandit algorithm.

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