Optimal Fixed-Budget Best Arm Identification using the Augmented Inverse Probability Estimator in Two-Armed Gaussian Bandits with Unknown Variances

Masahiro Kato, Kaito Ariu, Masaaki Imaizumi, Masatoshi Uehara, Masahiro Nomura, and Chao Qin

We consider the fixed-budget best arm identification problem in two-armed Gaussian bandits with unknown variances. The tightest lower bound on the complexity and an algorithm whose performance guarantee matches the lower bound have long been open problems when the variances are unknown and when the algorithm is agnostic to the optimal proportion of the arm draws. In this paper, we propose a strategy comprising a sampling rule with randomized sampling (RS) following the estimated target allocation probabilities of arm draws and a recommendation rule using the augmented inverse probability weighting (AIPW) estimator, which is often used in the causal inference literature. We refer to our strategy as the RS-AIPW strategy. In the theoretical analysis, we first derive a large deviation principle for martingales, which can be used when the second moment converges in mean, and apply it to our proposed strategy. Then, we show that the proposed strategy is asymptotically optimal in the sense that the probability of misidentification achieves the lower bound by Kaufmann et al. (2016) when the sample size becomes infinitely large and the gap between the two arms goes to zero.

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