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# Online Optimization with Gradual Variations

*Proceedings of the 25th Annual Conference on Learning Theory*, PMLR 23:6.1-6.20, 2012.

#### Abstract

We study the online convex optimization problem, in which an online algorithm has to make repeated decisions with convex loss functions and hopes to achieve a small regret. We consider a natural restriction of this problem in which the loss functions have a small deviation, measured by the sum of the distances between every two consecutive loss functions, according to some distance metrics. We show that for the linear and general smooth convex loss functions, an online algorithm modified from the gradient descend algorithm can achieve a regret which only scales as the square root of the deviation. For the closely related problem of prediction with expert advice, we show that an online algorithm modified from the multiplicative update algorithm can also achieve a similar regret bound for a different measure of deviation. Finally, for loss functions which are strictly convex, we show that an online algorithm modified from the online Newton step algorithm can achieve a regret which is only logarithmic in terms of the deviation, and as an application, we can also have such a logarithmic regret for the portfolio management problem.