Abstract:
We study the linear convergence of variants of the Frank-Wolfe algorithms for some classes of strongly convex problems, using only affine-invariant quantities. As in Guelat & Marcotte (1986), we show the linear convergence of the standard Frank-Wolfe algorithm when the solution is in the interior of the domain, but with affine invariant constants. We also show the linear convergence of the away-steps variant of the Frank-Wolfe algorithm, but with constants which only depend on the geometry of the domain, and not any property of the location of the optimal solution. Running these algorithms does not require knowing any problem specific parameters.

Abstract:
The Frank-Wolfe (FW) optimization algorithm has lately re-gained popularity thanks in particular to its ability to nicely handle the structured constraints appearing in machine learning applications. However, its convergence rate is known to be slow (sublinear) when the solution lies at the boundary. A simple less-known fix is to add the possibility to take 'away steps' during optimization, an operation that importantly does not require a feasibility oracle. In this paper, we highlight and clarify several variants of the Frank-Wolfe optimization algorithm that have been successfully applied in practice: away-steps FW, pairwise FW, fully-corrective FW and Wolfe's minimum norm point algorithm, and prove for the first time that they all enjoy global linear convergence, under a weaker condition than strong convexity of the objective. The constant in the convergence rate has an elegant interpretation as the product of the (classical) condition number of the function with a novel geometric quantity that plays the role of a 'condition number' of the constraint set. We provide pointers to where these algorithms have made a difference in practice, in particular with the flow polytope, the marginal polytope and the base polytope for submodular optimization.

Abstract:
Inference in popular nonparametric Bayesian models typically relies on sampling or other approximations. This paper presents a general methodology for constructing novel tractable nonparametric Bayesian methods by applying the kernel trick to inference in a parametric Bayesian model. For example, Gaussian process regression can be derived this way from Bayesian linear regression. Despite the success of the Gaussian process framework, the kernel trick is rarely explicitly considered in the Bayesian literature. In this paper, we aim to fill this gap and demonstrate the potential of applying the kernel trick to tractable Bayesian parametric models in a wider context than just regression. As an example, we present an intuitive Bayesian kernel machine for density estimation that is obtained by applying the kernel trick to a Gaussian generative model in feature space.

Abstract:
We propose a randomized block-coordinate variant of the classic Frank-Wolfe algorithm for convex optimization with block-separable constraints. Despite its lower iteration cost, we show that it achieves a similar convergence rate in duality gap as the full Frank-Wolfe algorithm. We also show that, when applied to the dual structural support vector machine (SVM) objective, this yields an online algorithm that has the same low iteration complexity as primal stochastic subgradient methods. However, unlike stochastic subgradient methods, the block-coordinate Frank-Wolfe algorithm allows us to compute the optimal step-size and yields a computable duality gap guarantee. Our experiments indicate that this simple algorithm outperforms competing structural SVM solvers.

Abstract:
In this note, we present a new averaging technique for the projected stochastic subgradient method. By using a weighted average with a weight of t+1 for each iterate w_t at iteration t, we obtain the convergence rate of O(1/t) with both an easy proof and an easy implementation. The new scheme is compared empirically to existing techniques, with similar performance behavior.

Abstract:
In this work we introduce a new optimisation method called SAGA in the spirit of SAG, SDCA, MISO and SVRG, a set of recently proposed incremental gradient algorithms with fast linear convergence rates. SAGA improves on the theory behind SAG and SVRG, with better theoretical convergence rates, and has support for composite objectives where a proximal operator is used on the regulariser. Unlike SDCA, SAGA supports non-strongly convex problems directly, and is adaptive to any inherent strong convexity of the problem. We give experimental results showing the effectiveness of our method.

Abstract:
Multi-object tracking has been recently approached with the min-cost network flow optimization techniques. Such methods simultaneously resolve multiple object tracks in a video and enable modeling of dependencies among tracks. Min-cost network flow methods also fit well within the "tracking-by-detection" paradigm where object trajectories are obtained by connecting per-frame outputs of an object detector. Object detectors, however, often fail due to occlusions and clutter in the video. To cope with such situations, we propose to add pairwise costs to the min-cost network flow framework. While integer solutions to such a problem become NP-hard, we design a convex relaxation solution with an efficient rounding heuristic which empirically gives certificates of small suboptimality. We evaluate two particular types of pairwise costs and demonstrate improvements over recent tracking methods in real-world video sequences.

Abstract:
We introduce a globally-convergent algorithm for optimizing the tree-reweighted (TRW) variational objective over the marginal polytope. The algorithm is based on the conditional gradient method (Frank-Wolfe) and moves pseudomarginals within the marginal polytope through repeated maximum a posteriori (MAP) calls. This modular structure enables us to leverage black-box MAP solvers (both exact and approximate) for variational inference, and obtains more accurate results than tree-reweighted algorithms that optimize over the local consistency relaxation. Theoretically, we bound the sub-optimality for the proposed algorithm despite the TRW objective having unbounded gradients at the boundary of the marginal polytope. Empirically, we demonstrate the increased quality of results found by tightening the relaxation over the marginal polytope as well as the spanning tree polytope on synthetic and real-world instances.

Abstract:
We show that the herding procedure of Welling (2009) takes exactly the form of a standard convex optimization algorithm--namely a conditional gradient algorithm minimizing a quadratic moment discrepancy. This link enables us to invoke convergence results from convex optimization and to consider faster alternatives for the task of approximating integrals in a reproducing kernel Hilbert space. We study the behavior of the different variants through numerical simulations. The experiments indicate that while we can improve over herding on the task of approximating integrals, the original herding algorithm tends to approach more often the maximum entropy distribution, shedding more light on the learning bias behind herding.

Abstract:
Stochastic Gradient Descent (SGD) is a workhorse in machine learning, yet its slow convergence can be a computational bottleneck. Variance reduction techniques such as SAG, SVRG and SAGA have been proposed to overcome this weakness, achieving linear convergence. However, these methods are either based on computations of full gradients at pivot points, or on keeping per data point corrections in memory. Therefore speed-ups relative to SGD may need a minimal number of epochs in order to materialize. This paper investigates algorithms that can exploit neighborhood structure in the training data to share and re-use information about past stochastic gradients across data points, which offers advantages in the transient optimization phase. As a side-product we provide a unified convergence analysis for a family of variance reduction algorithms, which we call memorization algorithms. We provide experimental results supporting our theory.