Zeroth-order Nonconvex Stochastic Optimization: Handling Constraints, High-Dimensionality and Saddle-Points [article]

Krishnakumar Balasubramanian, Saeed Ghadimi
2019 arXiv   pre-print
In this paper, we propose and analyze zeroth-order stochastic approximation algorithms for nonconvex and convex optimization, with a focus on addressing constrained optimization, high-dimensional setting and saddle-point avoiding. To handle constrained optimization, we first propose generalizations of the conditional gradient algorithm achieving rates similar to the standard stochastic gradient algorithm using only zeroth-order information. To facilitate zeroth-order optimization in
more » ... ons, we explore the advantages of structural sparsity assumptions. Specifically, (i) we highlight an implicit regularization phenomenon where the standard stochastic gradient algorithm with zeroth-order information adapts to the sparsity of the problem at hand by just varying the step-size and (ii) propose a truncated stochastic gradient algorithm with zeroth-order information, whose rate of convergence depends only poly-logarithmically on the dimensionality. We next focus on avoiding saddle-points in non-convex setting. Towards that, we interpret the Gaussian smoothing technique for estimating gradient based on zeroth-order information as an instantiation of first-order Stein's identity. Based on this, we provide a novel linear-(in dimension) time estimator of the Hessian matrix of a function using only zeroth-order information, which is based on second-order Stein's identity. We then provide an algorithm for avoiding saddle-points, which is based on a zeroth-order cubic regularization Newton's method and discuss its convergence rates.
arXiv:1809.06474v2 fatcat:zjewlmsld5gqdo4szmtd43r33e