Stochastic Block BFGS: Squeezing More Curvature out of Data


Robert Gower, Donald Goldfarb, Peter Richtarik ;
Proceedings of The 33rd International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 48:1869-1878, 2016.


We propose a novel limited-memory stochastic block BFGS update for incorporating enriched curvature information in stochastic approximation methods. In our method, the estimate of the inverse Hessian matrix that is maintained by it, is updated at each iteration using a sketch of the Hessian, i.e., a randomly generated compressed form of the Hessian. We propose several sketching strategies, present a new quasi-Newton method that uses stochastic block BFGS updates combined with the variance reduction approach SVRG to compute batch stochastic gradients, and prove linear convergence of the resulting method. Numerical tests on large-scale logistic regression problems reveal that our method is more robust and substantially outperforms current state-of-the-art methods.

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