Understanding the Role of Momentum in Non-Convex Optimization: Practical Insights from a Lyapunov Analysis

10/01/2020 ∙ by Aaron Defazio, et al. ∙ 1

Momentum methods are now used pervasively within the machine learning community for training non-convex models such as deep neural networks. Empirically, they out perform traditional stochastic gradient descent (SGD) approaches. In this work we develop a Lyapunov analysis of SGD with momentum (SGD+M), by utilizing a equivalent rewriting of the method known as the stochastic primal averaging (SPA) form. This analysis is much tighter than previous theory in the non-convex case, and due to this we are able to give precise insights into when SGD+M may out-perform SGD, and what hyper-parameter schedules will work and why.

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