A Modular Analysis of Adaptive (Non-)Convex Optimization: Optimism, Composite Objectives, and Variational Bounds


Pooria Joulani, András György, Csaba Szepesvári ;
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Algorithmic Learning Theory, PMLR 76:681-720, 2017.


Recently, much work has been done on extending the scope of online learning and incremental stochastic optimization algorithms. In this paper we contribute to this effort in two ways: First, based on a new regret decomposition and a generalization of Bregman divergences, we provide a self-contained, modular analysis of the two workhorses of online learning: (general) adaptive versions of Mirror Descent (MD) and the Follow-the-Regularized-Leader (FTRL) algorithms. The analysis is done with extra care so as not to introduce assumptions not needed in the proofs and allows to combine, in a straightforward way, different algorithmic ideas (e.g., adaptivity, optimism, implicit updates) and learning settings (e.g., strongly convex or composite objectives). This way we are able to reprove, extend and refine a large body of the literature, while keeping the proofs concise. The second contribution is a byproduct of this careful analysis: We present algorithms with improved variational bounds for smooth, composite objectives, including a new family of optimistic MD algorithms with only one projection step per round. Furthermore, we provide a simple extension of adaptive regret bounds to practically relevant non-convex problem settings with essentially no extra effort.

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