Neural Contextual Bandits with Deep Representation and Shallow Exploration

Pan Xu, Zheng Wen, Handong Zhao, Quanquan Gu

We study a general class of contextual bandits, where each context-action pair is associated with a raw feature vector, but the reward generating function is unknown. We propose a novel learning algorithm that transforms the raw feature vector using the last hidden layer of a deep ReLU neural network (deep representation learning), and uses an upper confidence bound (UCB) approach to explore in the last linear layer (shallow exploration). We prove that under standard assumptions, our proposed algorithm achieves $\tilde{O}(\sqrt{T})$ finite-time regret, where $T$ is the learning time horizon. Compared with existing neural contextual bandit algorithms, our approach is computationally much more efficient since it only needs to explore in the last layer of the deep neural network.

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