Incremental Majorization-Minimization Optimization with Application to Large-Scale Machine Learning by Julien Mairal

Majorization-minimization algorithms consist of successively minimizing a sequence of upper bounds of the objective function. These upper bounds are tight at the current estimate, and each iteration monotonically drives the objective function downhill. Such a simple principle is widely applicable and has been very popular in various scientific fields, especially in signal processing and statistics. In this paper, we propose an incremental majorization-minimization scheme for minimizing a large sum of continuous functions, a problem of utmost importance in machine learning. We present convergence guarantees for non-convex and convex optimization when the upper bounds approximate the objective up to a smooth error; we call such upper bounds "first-order surrogate functions". More precisely, we study asymptotic stationary point guarantees for non-convex problems, and for convex ones, we provide convergence rates for the expected objective function value. We apply our scheme to composite optimization and obtain a new incremental proximal gradient algorithm with linear convergence rate for strongly convex functions. In our experiments, we show that our method is competitive with the state of the art for solving large-scale machine learning problems such as logistic regression, and we demonstrate its usefulness for sparse estimation with non-convex penalties.

The implementation is in SPAMS: SPArse Modeling Software

Also of related interest the following two implementations:

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