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When Can We Track Significant Preference Shifts in Dueling Bandits?

Joe Suk · Arpit Agarwal · Arpit Agarwal

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #1817

Abstract: The $K$-armed dueling bandits problem, where the feedback is in the form of noisy pairwise preferences, has been widely studied due its applications in information retrieval, recommendation systems, etc. Motivated by concerns that user preferences/tastes can evolve over time, we consider the problem of _dueling bandits with distribution shifts_. Specifically, we study the recent notion of _significant shifts_ (Suk and Kpotufe, 2022), and ask whether one can design an _adaptive_ algorithm for the dueling problem with $O(\sqrt{K\tilde{L}T})$ dynamic regret,where $\tilde{L}$ is the (unknown) number of significant shifts in preferences. We show that the answer to this question depends on the properties of underlying preference distributions. Firstly, we give an impossibility result that rules out any algorithm with $O(\sqrt{K\tilde{L}T})$ dynamic regret under the well-studied Condorcet and SST classes of preference distributions. Secondly, we show that $\text{SST}\cap \text{STI}$ is the largest amongst popular classes of preference distributions where it is possible to design such an algorithm. Overall, our results provides an almost complete resolution of the above question for the hierarchy of distribution classes.

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