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# A Scalable Frank-Wolfe-Based Algorithm for the Max-Cut SDP

*Proceedings of the 40th International Conference on Machine Learning*, PMLR 202:27822-27839, 2023.

#### Abstract

We consider the problem of solving large-scale instances of the Max-Cut semidefinite program (SDP), i.e., optimizing a linear function over $n\times n$ positive semidefinite (PSD) matrices with unit diagonal. When the cost matrix is PSD, we show how to exactly reformulate the problem as maximizing a smooth concave function over PSD matrices with unit trace. By applying the Frank-Wolfe method, we obtain a simple algorithm that is compatible with recent sampling-based techniques to solve SDPs using low memory. We demonstrate the practical performance of our method on $10^6\times 10^6$ instances of the max-cut SDP with costs having up to $5 \times 10^6$ non-zero entries. Theoretically, we show that our method solves problems with diagonally dominant costs to relative error $\epsilon$ in $O(n\epsilon^{-1})$ calls to a randomized approximate largest eigenvalue subroutine, each of which succeeds with high probability after $O(\log(n)\epsilon^{-1/2})$ matrix-vector multiplications with the cost matrix.