A Bandit Approach to Sequential Experimental Design with False Discovery Control

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 31 (NeurIPS 2018)

Bibtex Metadata Paper Reviews Supplemental


Kevin G. Jamieson, Lalit Jain


We propose a new adaptive sampling approach to multiple testing which aims to maximize statistical power while ensuring anytime false discovery control. We consider $n$ distributions whose means are partitioned by whether they are below or equal to a baseline (nulls), versus above the baseline (true positives). In addition, each distribution can be sequentially and repeatedly sampled. Using techniques from multi-armed bandits, we provide an algorithm that takes as few samples as possible to exceed a target true positive proportion (i.e. proportion of true positives discovered) while giving anytime control of the false discovery proportion (nulls predicted as true positives). Our sample complexity results match known information theoretic lower bounds and through simulations we show a substantial performance improvement over uniform sampling and an adaptive elimination style algorithm. Given the simplicity of the approach, and its sample efficiency, the method has promise for wide adoption in the biological sciences, clinical testing for drug discovery, and maximization of click through in A/B/n testing problems.