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# Fast and robust tensor decomposition with applications to dictionary learning

*Proceedings of the 2017 Conference on Learning Theory*, PMLR 65:1760-1793, 2017.

#### Abstract

We develop fast spectral algorithms for tensor decomposition that match the robustness guarantees of the best known polynomial-time algorithms for this problem based on the sum-of-squares (SOS) semidefinite programming hierarchy. Our algorithms can decompose a 4-tensor with $n$-dimensional orthonormal components in the presence of error with constant spectral norm (when viewed as an $n^2$-by-$n^2$ matrix). The running time is $n^5$ which is close to linear in the input size $n^4$. We also obtain algorithms with similar running time to learn sparsely-used orthogonal dictionaries even when feature representations have constant relative sparsity and non-independent coordinates. The only previous polynomial-time algorithms to solve these problem are based on solving large semidefinite programs. In contrast, our algorithms are easy to implement directly and are based on spectral projections and tensor-mode rearrangements. Or work is inspired by recent of Hopkins, Schramm, Shi, and Steurer (STOC’16) that shows how fast spectral algorithms can achieve the guarantees of SOS for average-case problems. In this work, we introduce general techniques to capture the guarantees of SOS for worst-case problems.