Robust Multi-Agent Decision-Making with Heavy-Tailed Payoffs

Part of Proceedings of the International Conference on Machine Learning 1 pre-proceedings (ICML 2020)

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Abhimanyu Dubey, Alex `Sandy' Pentland


We study the heavy-tailed stochastic bandit problem in the cooperative multiagent setting, where a group of agents interact with a common bandit problem, while communicating on a network with delays. Existing algorithms for the stochastic bandit in this setting utilize confidence intervals arising from an averaging-based communication protocol known as~\textit{running consensus}, that does not lend itself to robust estimation for heavy-tailed settings. We propose \textsc{MP-UCB}, a decentralized multi-agent algorithm for the cooperative stochastic bandit that incorporates robust estimation with a message-passing protocol. We prove optimal regret bounds for \textsc{MP-UCB} for several problem settings, and also demonstrate its superiority to existing methods. Furthermore, we establish the first lower bounds for the cooperative bandit problem, in addition to providing efficient algorithms for robust bandit estimation of location.