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# A Single-Loop Gradient Descent and Perturbed Ascent Algorithm for Nonconvex Functional Constrained Optimization

*Proceedings of the 39th International Conference on Machine Learning*, PMLR 162:14315-14357, 2022.

#### Abstract

Nonconvex constrained optimization problems can be used to model a number of machine learning problems, such as multi-class Neyman-Pearson classification and constrained Markov decision processes. However, such kinds of problems are challenging because both the objective and constraints are possibly nonconvex, so it is difficult to balance the reduction of the loss value and reduction of constraint violation. Although there are a few methods that solve this class of problems, all of them are double-loop or triple-loop algorithms, and they require oracles to solve some subproblems up to certain accuracy by tuning multiple hyperparameters at each iteration. In this paper, we propose a novel gradient descent and perturbed ascent (GDPA) algorithm to solve a class of smooth nonconvex inequality constrained problems. The GDPA is a primal-dual algorithm, which only exploits the first-order information of both the objective and constraint functions to update the primal and dual variables in an alternating way. The key feature of the proposed algorithm is that it is a single-loop algorithm, where only two step-sizes need to be tuned. We show that under a mild regularity condition GDPA is able to find Karush-Kuhn-Tucker (KKT) points of nonconvex functional constrained problems with convergence rate guarantees. To the best of our knowledge, it is the first single-loop algorithm that can solve the general nonconvex smooth problems with nonconvex inequality constraints. Numerical results also showcase the superiority of GDPA compared with the best-known algorithms (in terms of both stationarity measure and feasibility of the obtained solutions).