There has been significant recent work on the theory and application of randomized coordinate descent algorithms, beginning with the work of Nesterov [SIAM J. Optim., 22(2), 2012], who showed that a random-coordinate selection rule achieves the same convergence rate as the Gauss-Southwell selection rule. This result suggests that we should never use the Gauss-Southwell rule, as it is typically much more expensive than random selection. However, the empirical behaviours of these algorithms contradict this theoretical result: in applications where the computational costs of the selection rules are comparable, the Gauss-Southwell selection rule tends to perform substantially better than random coordinate selection. We give a simple analysis of the Gauss-Southwell rule showing that---except in extreme cases---its convergence rate is faster than choosing random coordinates. Further, in this work we (i) show that exact coordinate optimization improves the convergence rate for certain sparse problems, (ii) propose a Gauss-Southwell-Lipschitz rule that gives an even faster convergence rate given knowledge of the Lipschitz constants of the partial derivatives, (iii) analyze the effect of approximate Gauss-Southwell rules, and (iv) analyze proximal-gradient variants of the Gauss-Southwell rule.
- Pub Date:
- June 2015
- Mathematics - Optimization and Control;
- Computer Science - Machine Learning;
- Statistics - Computation;
- Statistics - Machine Learning
- ICML 2015. v2: Updated the Gauss-Southwell-q result in Section 8 and Appendix H, to remove the part depending on mu_1 (the proof had an error). Added Section 8.1, which discusses conditions under which a rate depending on mu_1 does hold