skip to main content


Title: Momentum-Based Variance Reduction in Non-Convex SGD
Variance reduction has emerged in recent years as a strong competitor to stochastic gradient descent in non-convex problems, providing the first algorithms to improve upon the converge rate of stochastic gradient descent for finding first-order critical points. However, variance reduction techniques typically require carefully tuned learning rates and willingness to use excessively large "mega-batches" in order to achieve their improved results. We present a new algorithm, STORM, that does not require any batches and makes use of adaptive learning rates, enabling simpler implementation and less hyperparameter tuning. Our technique for removing the batches uses a variant of momentum to achieve variance reduction in non-convex optimization. On smooth losses $F$, STORM finds a point $\boldsymbol{x}$ with $E[\|\nabla F(\boldsymbol{x})\|]\le O(1/\sqrt{T}+\sigma^{1/3}/T^{1/3})$ in $T$ iterations with $\sigma^2$ variance in the gradients, matching the optimal rate and without requiring knowledge of $\sigma$.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1908111
NSF-PAR ID:
10208397
Author(s) / Creator(s):
;
Editor(s):
Wallach, H.; Larochelle, H.; Beygelzimer, A.; d'Alché-Buc, F.; Fox, E.; Garnett, R.
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Advances in neural information processing systems
Volume:
32
ISSN:
1049-5258
Page Range / eLocation ID:
15236 - 15245
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Deep learning methods achieve state-of-the-art performance in many application scenarios. Yet, these methods require a significant amount of hyperparameters tuning in order to achieve the best results. In particular, tuning the learning rates in the stochastic optimization process is still one of the main bottlenecks. In this paper, we propose a new stochastic gradient descent procedure for deep networks that does not require any learning rate setting. Contrary to previous methods, we do not adapt the learning rates nor we make use of the assumed curvature of the objective function. Instead, we reduce the optimization process to a game of betting on a coin and propose a learning rate free optimal algorithm for this scenario. Theoretical convergence is proven for convex and quasi-convex functions and empirical evidence shows the advantage of our algorithm over popular stochastic gradient algorithms. 
    more » « less
  2. Minimax optimal convergence rates for numerous classes of stochastic convex optimization problems are well characterized, where the majority of results utilize iterate averaged stochastic gradient descent (SGD) with polynomially decaying step sizes. In contrast, the behavior of SGDs final iterate has received much less attention despite the widespread use in practice. Motivated by this observation, this work provides a detailed study of the following question: what rate is achievable using the final iterate of SGD for the streaming least quares regression problem with and without strong convexity? First, this work shows that even if the time horizon T (i.e. the number of iterations that SGD is run for) is known in advance, the behavior of SGDs final iterate with any polynomially decaying learning rate scheme is highly suboptimal compared to the statistical minimax rate (by a condition number factor in the strongly convex case and a factor of \sqrt{T} in the non-strongly convex case). In contrast, this paper shows that Step Decay schedules, which cut the learning rate by a constant factor every constant number of epochs (i.e., the learning rate decays geometrically) offer significant improvements over any polynomially decaying step size schedule. In particular, the behavior of the final iterate with step decay schedules is off from the statistical minimax rate by only log factors (in the condition number for the strongly convex case, and in T in the non-strongly convex case). Finally, in stark contrast to the known horizon case, this paper shows that the anytime (i.e. the limiting) behavior of SGDs final iterate is poor (in that it queries iterates with highly sub-optimal function value infinitely often, i.e. in a limsup sense) irrespective of the step size scheme employed. These results demonstrate the subtlety in establishing optimal learning rate schedules (for the final iterate) for stochastic gradient procedures in fixed time horizon settings. 
    more » « less
  3. Minimax optimal convergence rates for classes of stochastic convex optimization problems are well characterized, where the majority of results utilize iterate averaged stochastic gradient descent (SGD) with polynomially decaying step sizes. In contrast, SGD's final iterate behavior has received much less attention despite their widespread use in practice. Motivated by this observation, this work provides a detailed study of the following question: what rate is achievable using the final iterate of SGD for the streaming least squares regression problem with and without strong convexity? First, this work shows that even if the time horizon T (i.e. the number of iterations SGD is run for) is known in advance, SGD's final iterate behavior with any polynomially decaying learning rate scheme is highly sub-optimal compared to the minimax rate (by a condition number factor in the strongly convex case and a factor of T‾‾√ in the non-strongly convex case). In contrast, this paper shows that Step Decay schedules, which cut the learning rate by a constant factor every constant number of epochs (i.e., the learning rate decays geometrically) offers significant improvements over any polynomially decaying step sizes. In particular, the final iterate behavior with a step decay schedule is off the minimax rate by only log factors (in the condition number for strongly convex case, and in T for the non-strongly convex case). Finally, in stark contrast to the known horizon case, this paper shows that the anytime (i.e. the limiting) behavior of SGD's final iterate is poor (in that it queries iterates with highly sub-optimal function value infinitely often, i.e. in a limsup sense) irrespective of the stepsizes employed. These results demonstrate the subtlety in establishing optimal learning rate schemes (for the final iterate) for stochastic gradient procedures in fixed time horizon settings. 
    more » « less
  4. Minimax optimal convergence rates for numerous classes of stochastic convex optimization problems are well characterized, where the majority of results utilize iterate averaged stochastic gradient descent (SGD) with polynomially decaying step sizes. In contrast, the behavior of SGD’s final iterate has received much less attention despite the widespread use in practice. Motivated by this observation, this work provides a detailed study of the following question: what rate is achievable using the final iterate of SGD for the streaming least squares regression problem with and without strong convexity? First, this work shows that even if the time horizon T (i.e. the number of iterations that SGD is run for) is known in advance, the behavior of SGD’s final iterate with any polynomially decaying learning rate scheme is highly sub-optimal compared to the statistical minimax rate (by a condition number factor in the strongly convex √ case and a factor of shows that Step Decay schedules, which cut the learning rate by a constant factor every constant number of epochs (i.e., the learning rate decays geometrically) offer significant improvements over any polynomially decaying step size schedule. In particular, the behavior of the final iterate with step decay schedules is off from the statistical minimax rate by only log factors (in the condition number for the strongly convex case, and in T in the non-strongly convex case). Finally, in stark contrast to the known horizon case, this paper shows that the anytime (i.e. the limiting) behavior of SGD’s final iterate is poor (in that it queries iterates with highly sub-optimal function value infinitely often, i.e. in a limsup sense) irrespective of the stepsize scheme employed. These results demonstrate the subtlety in establishing optimal learning rate schedules (for the final iterate) for stochastic gradient procedures in fixed time horizon settings. 
    more » « less
  5. In this work, we describe a generic approach to show convergence with high probability for both stochastic convex and non-convex optimization with sub-Gaussian noise. In previous works for convex optimization, either the convergence is only in expectation or the bound depends on the diameter of the domain. Instead, we show high probability convergence with bounds depending on the initial distance to the optimal solution. The algorithms use step sizes analogous to the standard settings and are universal to Lipschitz functions, smooth functions, and their linear combinations. The method can be applied to the non-convex case. We demonstrate an $O((1+\sigma^{2}\log(1/\delta))/T+\sigma/\sqrt{T})$ convergence rate when the number of iterations $T$ is known and an $O((1+\sigma^{2}\log(T/\delta))/\sqrt{T})$ convergence rate when $T$ is unknown for SGD, where $1-\delta$ is the desired success probability. These bounds improve over existing bounds in the literature. We also revisit AdaGrad-Norm (Ward et al., 2019) and show a new analysis to obtain a high probability bound that does not require the bounded gradient assumption made in previous works. The full version of our paper contains results for the standard per-coordinate AdaGrad. 
    more » « less