Fast Stochastic AUC Maximization with $O(1/n)$-Convergence Rate


Mingrui Liu, Xiaoxuan Zhang, Zaiyi Chen, Xiaoyu Wang, Tianbao Yang ;
Proceedings of the 35th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 80:3189-3197, 2018.


In this paper, we consider statistical learning with AUC (area under ROC curve) maximization in the classical stochastic setting where one random data drawn from an unknown distribution is revealed at each iteration for updating the model. Although consistent convex surrogate losses for AUC maximization have been proposed to make the problem tractable, it remains an challenging problem to design fast optimization algorithms in the classical stochastic setting due to that the convex surrogate loss depends on random pairs of examples from positive and negative classes. Building on a saddle point formulation for a consistent square loss, this paper proposes a novel stochastic algorithm to improve the standard $O(1/\sqrt{n})$ convergence rate to $\widetilde O(1/n)$ convergence rate without strong convexity assumption or any favorable statistical assumptions (e.g., low noise), where $n$ is the number of random samples. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first stochastic algorithm for AUC maximization with a statistical convergence rate as fast as $O(1/n)$ up to a logarithmic factor. Extensive experiments on eight large-scale benchmark data sets demonstrate the superior performance of the proposed algorithm comparing with existing stochastic or online algorithms for AUC maximization.

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