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Adaptively Exploiting d-Separators with Causal Bandits
Blair Bilodeau · Linbo Wang · Dan Roy

Tue Nov 29 02:00 PM -- 04:00 PM (PST) @ Hall J #805

Multi-armed bandit problems provide a framework to identify the optimal intervention over a sequence of repeated experiments. Without additional assumptions, minimax optimal performance (measured by cumulative regret) is well-understood. With access to additional observed variables that d-separate the intervention from the outcome (i.e., they are a d-separator), recent "causal bandit" algorithms provably incur less regret. However, in practice it is desirable to be agnostic to whether observed variables are a d-separator. Ideally, an algorithm should be adaptive; that is, perform nearly as well as an algorithm with oracle knowledge of the presence or absence of a d-separator. In this work, we formalize and study this notion of adaptivity, and provide a novel algorithm that simultaneously achieves (a) optimal regret when a d-separator is observed, improving on classical minimax algorithms, and (b) significantly smaller regret than recent causal bandit algorithms when the observed variables are not a d-separator. Crucially, our algorithm does not require any oracle knowledge of whether a d-separator is observed. We also generalize this adaptivity to other conditions, such as the front-door criterion.

Author Information

Blair Bilodeau (University of Toronto)
Linbo Wang (University of Toronto)
Dan Roy (U of Toronto; Vector)

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