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Publication# On Convergence-Diagnostic based Step Sizes for Stochastic Gradient Descent

Nicolas Henri Bernard Flammarion, Scott William Pesme, Aymeric Daphnis Kévin Dieuleveut

2020

Conference paper

2020

Conference paper

Abstract

Constant step-size Stochastic Gradient Descent exhibits two phases: a transient phase during which iterates make fast progress towards the optimum, followed by a stationary phase during which iterates oscillate around the optimal point. In this paper, we show that efficiently detecting this transition and appropriately decreasing the step size can lead to fast convergence rates. We analyse the classical statistical test proposed by Pflug (1983), based on the inner product between consecutive stochastic gradients. Even in the simple case where the objective function is quadratic we show that this test cannot lead to an adequate convergence diagnostic. We then propose a novel and simple statistical procedure that accurately detects stationarity and we provide experimental results showing state-of-the-art performance on synthetic and real-world datasets.

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Stochastic gradient descent

Stochastic gradient descent (often abbreviated SGD) is an iterative method for optimizing an objective function with suitable smoothness properties (e.g. differentiable or subdifferentiable). It can be regarded as a stochastic approximation of gradient descent optimization, since it replaces the actual gradient (calculated from the entire data set) by an estimate thereof (calculated from a randomly selected subset of the data).

Gradient descent

In mathematics, gradient descent (also often called steepest descent) is a iterative optimization algorithm for finding a local minimum of a differentiable function. The idea is to take repeated steps in the opposite direction of the gradient (or approximate gradient) of the function at the current point, because this is the direction of steepest descent. Conversely, stepping in the direction of the gradient will lead to a local maximum of that function; the procedure is then known as gradient ascent.

Rate of convergence

In numerical analysis, the order of convergence and the rate of convergence of a convergent sequence are quantities that represent how quickly the sequence approaches its limit. A sequence that converges to is said to have order of convergence and rate of convergence if The rate of convergence is also called the asymptotic error constant. Note that this terminology is not standardized and some authors will use rate where this article uses order (e.g., ).

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Introduction of optimisation problems in which the objective function is black box or obtaining the gradient is infeasible, has recently raised interest in zeroth-order optimisation methods. As an exa

2019