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Junyan Liu, Yunfan Li, Lin Yang

Existing performance measures for bandit algorithms such as regret, PAC bounds, or uniform-PAC (Dann et al., 2017), typically evaluate the cumulative performance, while allowing the play of an arbitrarily bad arm at any finite time t. Such a behavior can be highly detrimental in high-stakes applications. This paper introduces a stronger performance measure, the uniform last-iterate (ULI) guarantee, capturing both cumulative and instantaneous performance of bandit algorithms. Specifically, ULI characterizes the instantaneous performance since it ensures that the per-round regret of the played arm is bounded by a function, monotonically decreasing w.r.t. (large) round t, preventing revisits to bad arms when sufficient samples are available. We demonstrate that a near-optimal ULI guarantee directly implies near-optimal cumulative performance across aforementioned performance measures. To examine the achievability of ULI in the finite arm setting, we first provide two positive results that some elimination-based algorithms and high-probability adversarial algorithms with stronger analysis or additional designs, can attain near-optimal ULI guarantees. Then, we also provide a negative result, indicating that optimistic algorithms cannot achieve a near-optimal ULI guarantee. Finally, we propose an efficient algorithm for linear bandits with infinitely many arms, which achieves the ULI guarantee, given access to an optimization oracle.

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Tiancheng Jin, Junyan Liu, Chloé Rouyer, William Chang, Chen-Yu Wei, Haipeng Luo

Existing online learning algorithms for adversarial Markov Decision Processes achieve ${O}(\sqrt{T})$ regret after $T$ rounds of interactions even if the loss functions are chosen arbitrarily by an adversary, with the caveat that the transition function has to be fixed. This is because it has been shown that adversarial transition functions make no-regret learning impossible. Despite such impossibility results, in this work, we develop algorithms that can handle both adversarial losses and adversarial transitions, with regret increasing smoothly in the degree of maliciousness of the adversary. More concretely, we first propose an algorithm that enjoys $\widetilde{{O}}(\sqrt{T} + C^{\textsf{P}})$ regret where $C^{\textsf{P}}$ measures how adversarial the transition functions are and can be at most ${O}(T)$. While this algorithm itself requires knowledge of $C^{\textsf{P}}$, we further develop a black-box reduction approach that removes this requirement. Moreover, we also show that further refinements of the algorithm not only maintains the same regret bound, but also simultaneously adapts to easier environments (where losses are generated in a certain stochastically constrained manner as in Jin et al. [2021]) and achieves $\widetilde{{O}}(U + \sqrt{UC^{\textsf{L}}} + C^{\textsf{P}})$ regret, where $U$ is some standard gap-dependent coefficient and $C^{\textsf{L}}$ is the amount of corruption on losses.

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Tiancheng Jin, Junyan Liu, Haipeng Luo

We study the problem of designing adaptive multi-armed bandit algorithms that perform optimally in both the stochastic setting and the adversarial setting simultaneously (often known as a best-of-both-world guarantee). A line of recent works shows that when configured and analyzed properly, the Follow-the-Regularized-Leader (FTRL) algorithm, originally designed for the adversarial setting, can in fact optimally adapt to the stochastic setting as well. Such results, however, critically rely on an assumption that there exists one unique optimal arm. Recently, Ito (2021) took the first step to remove such an undesirable uniqueness assumption for one particular FTRL algorithm with the $\frac{1}{2}$-Tsallis entropy regularizer. In this work, we significantly improve and generalize this result, showing that uniqueness is unnecessary for FTRL with a broad family of regularizers and a new learning rate schedule. For some regularizers, our regret bounds also improve upon prior results even when uniqueness holds. We further provide an application of our results to the decoupled exploration and exploitation problem, demonstrating that our techniques are broadly applicable.

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Junyan Liu, Shuai Li, Dapeng Li

We study the problem of stochastic bandits with adversarial corruptions in the cooperative multi-agent setting, where $V$ agents interact with a common $K$-armed bandit problem, and each pair of agents can communicate with each other to expedite the learning process. In the problem, the rewards are independently sampled from distributions across all agents and rounds, but they may be corrupted by an adversary. Our goal is to minimize both the overall regret and communication cost across all agents. We first show that an additive term of corruption is unavoidable for any algorithm in this problem. Then, we propose a new algorithm that is agnostic to the level of corruption. Our algorithm not only achieves near-optimal regret in the stochastic setting, but also obtains a regret with an additive term of corruption in the corrupted setting, while maintaining efficient communication. The algorithm is also applicable for the single-agent corruption problem, and achieves a high probability regret that removes the multiplicative dependence of $K$ on corruption level. Our result of the single-agent case resolves an open question from Gupta et al. [2019].

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