Risk-Aversion in Multi-armed Bandits[PDF] [BibTeX]
In stochastic multi--armed bandits the objective is to solve the exploration--exploitation dilemma and ultimately maximize the expected reward. Nonetheless, in many practical problems, maximizing the expected reward is not the most desirable objective. In this paper, we introduce a novel setting based on the principle of risk--aversion where the objective is to compete against the arm with the best risk--return trade--off. This setting proves to be intrinsically more difficult than the standard multi-arm bandit setting due in part to an exploration risk which introduces a regret associated to the variability of an algorithm. Using variance as a measure of risk, we introduce two new algorithms, we investigate their theoretical guarantees, and we report preliminary empirical results.