Automated Inference with Adaptive Batches

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Soham De, Abhay Yadav, David Jacobs, Tom Goldstein ;
Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics, PMLR 54:1504-1513, 2017.

Abstract

Classical stochastic gradient methods for optimization rely on noisy gradient approximations that become progressively less accurate as iterates approach a solution. The large noise and small signal in the resulting gradients makes it difficult to use them for adaptive stepsize selection and automatic stopping. We propose alternative “big batch” SGD schemes that adaptively grow the batch size over time to maintain a nearly constant signal-to-noise ratio in the gradient approximation. The resulting methods have similar convergence rates to classical SGD, and do not require convexity of the objective. The high fidelity gradients enable automated learning rate selection and do not require stepsize decay. Big batch methods are thus easily automated and can run with little or no oversight.

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