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Sample-Then-Optimize Batch Neural Thompson Sampling
Zhongxiang Dai · YAO SHU · Bryan Kian Hsiang Low · Patrick Jaillet

Wed Nov 30 09:00 AM -- 11:00 AM (PST) @ Hall J #221

Bayesian optimization (BO), which uses a Gaussian process (GP) as a surrogate to model its objective function, is popular for black-box optimization. However, due to the limitations of GPs, BO underperforms in some problems such as those with categorical, high-dimensional or image inputs. To this end, recent works have used the highly expressive neural networks (NNs) as the surrogate model and derived theoretical guarantees using the theory of neural tangent kernel (NTK). However, these works suffer from the limitations of the requirement to invert an extremely large parameter matrix and the restriction to the sequential (rather than batch) setting. To overcome these limitations, we introduce two algorithms based on the Thompson sampling (TS) policy named Sample-Then-Optimize Batch Neural TS (STO-BNTS) and STO-BNTS-Linear. To choose an input query, we only need to train an NN (resp. a linear model) and then choose the query by maximizing the trained NN (resp. linear model), which is equivalently sampled from the GP posterior with the NTK as the kernel function. As a result, our algorithms sidestep the need to invert the large parameter matrix yet still preserve the validity of the TS policy. Next, we derive regret upper bounds for our algorithms with batch evaluations, and use insights from batch BO and NTK to show that they are asymptotically no-regret under certain conditions. Finally, we verify their empirical effectiveness using practical AutoML and reinforcement learning experiments.

Author Information

Zhongxiang Dai (National University of Singapore)
YAO SHU (National University of Singapore)
Bryan Kian Hsiang Low (National University of Singapore)
Patrick Jaillet (MIT)

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