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# Cyclic Block Coordinate Descent With Variance Reduction for Composite Nonconvex Optimization

*Proceedings of the 40th International Conference on Machine Learning*, PMLR 202:3469-3494, 2023.

#### Abstract

Nonconvex optimization is central in solving many machine learning problems, in which block-wise structure is commonly encountered. In this work, we propose cyclic block coordinate methods for nonconvex optimization problems with non-asymptotic gradient norm guarantees. Our convergence analysis is based on a gradient Lipschitz condition with respect to a Mahalanobis norm, inspired by a recent progress on cyclic block coordinate methods. In deterministic settings, our convergence guarantee matches the guarantee of (full-gradient) gradient descent, but with the gradient Lipschitz constant being defined w.r.t. a Mahalanobis norm. In stochastic settings, we use recursive variance reduction to decrease the per-iteration cost and match the arithmetic operation complexity of current optimal stochastic full-gradient methods, with a unified analysis for both finite-sum and infinite-sum cases. We prove a faster linear convergence result when a Polyak-Łojasiewicz (PŁ) condition holds. To our knowledge, this work is the first to provide non-asymptotic convergence guarantees — variance-reduced or not — for a cyclic block coordinate method in general composite (smooth + nonsmooth) nonconvex settings. Our experimental results demonstrate the efficacy of the proposed cyclic scheme in training deep neural nets.