Regret Minimization via Saddle Point Optimization

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper


Johannes Kirschner, Alireza Bakhtiari, Kushagra Chandak, Volodymyr Tkachuk, Csaba Szepesvari


A long line of works characterizes the sample complexity of regret minimization in sequential decision-making by min-max programs. In the corresponding saddle-point game, the min-player optimizes the sampling distribution against an adversarial max-player that chooses confusing models leading to large regret. The most recent instantiation of this idea is the decision-estimation coefficient (DEC), which was shown to provide nearly tight lower and upper bounds on the worst-case expected regret in structured bandits and reinforcement learning. By re-parametrizing the offset DEC with the confidence radius and solving the corresponding min-max program, we derive an anytime variant of the Estimation-To-Decisions algorithm (Anytime-E2D). Importantly, the algorithm optimizes the exploration-exploitation trade-off online instead of via the analysis. Our formulation leads to a practical algorithm for finite model classes and linear feedback models. We further point out connections to the information ratio, decoupling coefficient and PAC-DEC, and numerically evaluate the performance of E2D on simple examples.