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Saving Gradient and Negative Curvature Computations: Finding Local Minima More Efficiently

by   Yaodong Yu, et al.

We propose a family of nonconvex optimization algorithms that are able to save gradient and negative curvature computations to a large extent, and are guaranteed to find an approximate local minimum with improved runtime complexity. At the core of our algorithms is the division of the entire domain of the objective function into small and large gradient regions: our algorithms only perform gradient descent based procedure in the large gradient region, and only perform negative curvature descent in the small gradient region. Our novel analysis shows that the proposed algorithms can escape the small gradient region in only one negative curvature descent step whenever they enter it, and thus they only need to perform at most N_ϵ negative curvature direction computations, where N_ϵ is the number of times the algorithms enter small gradient regions. For both deterministic and stochastic settings, we show that the proposed algorithms can potentially beat the state-of-the-art local minima finding algorithms. For the finite-sum setting, our algorithm can also outperform the best algorithm in a certain regime.


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