Computational Optimal Transport: Complexity by Accelerated Gradient Descent Is Better Than by Sinkhorn’s Algorithm


Pavel Dvurechensky, Alexander Gasnikov, Alexey Kroshnin ;
Proceedings of the 35th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 80:1366-1375, 2018.


We analyze two algorithms for approximating the general optimal transport (OT) distance between two discrete distributions of size $n$, up to accuracy $\varepsilon$. For the first algorithm, which is based on the celebrated Sinkhorn’s algorithm, we prove the complexity bound $\widetilde{O}\left(\frac{n^2}{\varepsilon^2}\right)$ arithmetic operations ($\widetilde{O}$ hides polylogarithmic factors $(\ln n)^c$, $c>0$). For the second one, which is based on our novel Adaptive Primal-Dual Accelerated Gradient Descent (APDAGD) algorithm, we prove the complexity bound $\widetilde{O}\left(\min\left\{\frac{n^{9/4}}{\varepsilon}, \frac{n^{2}}{\varepsilon^2} \right\}\right)$ arithmetic operations. Both bounds have better dependence on $\varepsilon$ than the state-of-the-art result given by $\widetilde{O}\left(\frac{n^2}{\varepsilon^3}\right)$. Our second algorithm not only has better dependence on $\varepsilon$ in the complexity bound, but also is not specific to entropic regularization and can solve the OT problem with different regularizers.

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