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# Beyond Lipschitz Smoothness: A Tighter Analysis for Nonconvex Optimization

*Proceedings of the 40th International Conference on Machine Learning*, PMLR 202:13652-13678, 2023.

#### Abstract

Negative and positive curvatures affect optimization in different ways. However, a lot of existing optimization theories are based on the Lipschitz smoothness assumption, which cannot differentiate between the two. In this paper, we propose to use two separate assumptions for positive and negative curvatures, so that we can study the different implications of the two. We analyze the Lookahead and Local SGD methods as concrete examples. Both of them require multiple copies of model parameters and communication among them for every certain period of time in order to prevent divergence. We show that the minimum communication frequency is inversely proportional to the negative curvature, and when the negative curvature becomes zero, we recover the existing theory results for convex optimization. Finally, both experimentally and theoretically, we demonstrate that modern neural networks have highly unbalanced positive/negative curvatures. Thus, an analysis based on separate positive and negative curvatures is more pertinent.