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# Accelerating Smooth Games by Manipulating Spectral Shapes

; Proceedings of the Twenty Third International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics, PMLR 108:1705-1715, 2020.

#### Abstract

We use matrix iteration theory to characterize acceleration in smooth games. We define the spectral shape of a family of games as the set containing all eigenvalues of the Jacobians of standard gradient dynamics in the family. Shapes restricted to the real line represent well-understood classes of problems, like minimization. Shapes spanning the complex plane capture the added numerical challenges in solving smooth games. In this framework, we describe gradient-based methods, such as extragradient, as transformations on the spectral shape. Using this perspective, we propose an optimal algorithm for bilinear games. For smooth and strongly monotone operators, we identify a continuum between convex minimization, where acceleration is possible using Polyak’s momentum, and the worst case where gradient descent is optimal. Finally, going beyond first-order methods, we propose an accelerated version of consensus optimization.