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# Fast Stochastic Algorithms for Low-rank and Nonsmooth Matrix Problems

*Proceedings of the Twenty-Second International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics*, PMLR 89:286-294, 2019.

#### Abstract

Composite convex optimization problems which include both a nonsmooth term and a low-rank promoting term have important applications in machine learning and signal processing, such as when one wishes to recover an unknown matrix that is simultaneously low-rank and sparse. However, such problems are highly challenging to solve in large-scale: the low-rank promoting term prohibits efficient implementations of proximal methods for composite optimization and even simple subgradient methods. On the other hand, methods which are tailored for low-rank optimization, such as conditional gradient-type methods, which are often applied to a smooth approximation of the nonsmooth objective, are slow since their runtime scales with both the large Lipchitz parameter of the smoothed gradient vector and with $1/\epsilon$, where $\epsilon$ is the target accuracy. In this paper we develop efficient algorithms for \textit{stochastic} optimization of a strongly-convex objective which includes both a nonsmooth term and a low-rank promoting term. In particular, to the best of our knowledge, we present the first algorithm that enjoys all following critical properties for large-scale problems: i) (nearly) optimal sample complexity, ii) each iteration requires only a single \textit{low-rank} SVD computation, and iii) overall number of thin-SVD computations scales only with $\log{1/\epsilon}$ (as opposed to $\textrm{poly}(1/\epsilon)$ in previous methods). We also give an algorithm for the closely-related finite-sum setting. We empirically demonstrate our results on the problem of recovering a simultaneously low-rank and sparse matrix.