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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024
  2. Chaudhuri, Kamalika ; Jegelka, Stefanie ; Song, Le ; Szepesvari, Csaba ; Niu, Gang ; Sabato, Sivan (Ed.)
    In real-world recommendation problems, especially those with a formidably large item space, users have to gradually learn to estimate the utility of any fresh recommendations from their experience about previously consumed items. This in turn affects their interaction dynamics with the system and can invalidate previous algorithms built on the omniscient user assumption. In this paper, we formalize a model to capture such ”learning users” and design an efficient system-side learning solution, coined Noise-Robust Active Ellipsoid Search (RAES), to confront the challenges brought by the non-stationary feedback from such a learning user. Interestingly, we prove that the regret of RAES deteriorates gracefully as the convergence rate of user learning becomes worse, until reaching linear regret when the user’s learning fails to converge. Experiments on synthetic datasets demonstrate the strength of RAES for such a contemporaneous system-user learning problem. Our study provides a novel perspective on modeling the feedback loop in recommendation problems. 
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  3. We propose a new problem setting to study the sequential interactions between a recommender system and a user. Instead of assuming the user is omniscient, static, and explicit, as the classical practice does, we sketch a more realistic user behavior model, under which the user: 1) rejects recommendations if they are clearly worse than others; 2) updates her utility estimation based on rewards from her accepted recommendations; 3) withholds realized rewards from the system. We formulate the interactions between the system and such an explorative user in a K-armed bandit framework and study the problem of learning the optimal recommendation on the system side. We show that efficient system learning is still possible but is more difficult. In particular, the system can identify the best arm with probability at least 1-delta within O(1/delta) interactions, and we prove this is tight. Our finding contrasts the result for the problem of best arm identification with fixed confidence, in which the best arm can be identified with probability 1-delta within O(log(1/delta)) interactions. This gap illustrates the inevitable cost the system has to pay when it learns from an explorative user's revealed preferences on its recommendations rather than from the realized rewards. 
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