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# SONIA: A Symmetric Blockwise Truncated Optimization Algorithm

*Proceedings of The 24th International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics*, PMLR 130:487-495, 2021.

#### Abstract

This work presents a new optimization algorithm for empirical risk minimization. The algorithm bridges the gap between first- and second-order methods by computing a search direction that uses a second-order-type update in one subspace, coupled with a scaled steepest descent step in the orthogonal complement. To this end, partial curvature information is incorporated to help with ill-conditioning, while simultaneously allowing the algorithm to scale to the large problem dimensions often encountered in machine learning applications. Theoretical results are presented to confirm that the algorithm converges to a stationary point in both the strongly convex and nonconvex cases. A stochastic variant of the algorithm is also presented, along with corresponding theoretical guarantees. Numerical results confirm the strengths of the new approach on standard machine learning problems.