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Abstract:We study contextual bandits with low-rank structure where, in each round, if the (context, arm) pair $(i,j)\in [m]\times [n]$ is selected, the learner observes a noisy sample of the $(i,j)$-th entry of an unknown low-rank reward matrix. Successive contexts are generated randomly in an i.i.d. manner and are revealed to the learner. For such bandits, we present efficient algorithms for policy evaluation, best policy identification and regret minimization. For policy evaluation and best policy identification, we show that our algorithms are nearly minimax optimal. For instance, the number of samples required to return an $\varepsilon$-optimal policy with probability at least $1-\delta$ typically scales as ${m+n\over \varepsilon^2}\log(1/\delta)$. Our regret minimization algorithm enjoys minimax guarantees scaling as $r^{7/4}(m+n)^{3/4}\sqrt{T}$, which improves over existing algorithms. All the proposed algorithms consist of two phases: they first leverage spectral methods to estimate the left and right singular subspaces of the low-rank reward matrix. We show that these estimates enjoy tight error guarantees in the two-to-infinity norm. This in turn allows us to reformulate our problems as a misspecified linear bandit problem with dimension roughly $r(m+n)$ and misspecification controlled by the subspace recovery error, as well as to design the second phase of our algorithms efficiently.