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Abstract:We consider the adversarial linear contextual bandit setting, which allows for the loss functions associated with each of $K$ arms to change over time without restriction. Assuming the $d$-dimensional contexts are drawn from a fixed known distribution, the worst-case expected regret over the course of $T$ rounds is known to scale as $\tilde O(\sqrt{Kd T})$. Under the additional assumption that the density of the contexts is log-concave, we obtain a second-order bound of order $\tilde O(K\sqrt{d V_T})$ in terms of the cumulative second moment of the learner's losses $V_T$, and a closely related first-order bound of order $\tilde O(K\sqrt{d L_T^*})$ in terms of the cumulative loss of the best policy $L_T^*$. Since $V_T$ or $L_T^*$ may be significantly smaller than $T$, these improve over the worst-case regret whenever the environment is relatively benign. Our results are obtained using a truncated version of the continuous exponential weights algorithm over the probability simplex, which we analyse by exploiting a novel connection to the linear bandit setting without contexts.

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