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# Low-Rank Sinkhorn Factorization

*Proceedings of the 38th International Conference on Machine Learning*, PMLR 139:9344-9354, 2021.

#### Abstract

Several recent applications of optimal transport (OT) theory to machine learning have relied on regularization, notably entropy and the Sinkhorn algorithm. Because matrix-vector products are pervasive in the Sinkhorn algorithm, several works have proposed to \textit{approximate} kernel matrices appearing in its iterations using low-rank factors. Another route lies instead in imposing low-nonnegative rank constraints on the feasible set of couplings considered in OT problems, with no approximations on cost nor kernel matrices. This route was first explored by \citet{forrow2018statistical}, who proposed an algorithm tailored for the squared Euclidean ground cost, using a proxy objective that can be solved through the machinery of regularized 2-Wasserstein barycenters. Building on this, we introduce in this work a generic approach that aims at solving, in full generality, the OT problem under low-nonnegative rank constraints with arbitrary costs. Our algorithm relies on an explicit factorization of low-rank couplings as a product of \textit{sub-coupling} factors linked by a common marginal; similar to an NMF approach, we alternatively updates these factors. We prove the non-asymptotic stationary convergence of this algorithm and illustrate its efficiency on benchmark experiments.