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Generalized Polyak Step Size for First Order Optimization with Momentum
Xiaoyu Wang · Mikael Johansson · Tong Zhang

Thu Jul 27 01:30 PM -- 03:00 PM (PDT) @ Exhibit Hall 1 #133

In machine learning applications, it is well known that carefully designed learning rate (step size) schedules can significantly improve the convergence of commonly used first-order optimization algorithms. Therefore how to set step size adaptively becomes an important research question. A popular and effective method is the Polyak step size, which sets step size adaptively for gradient descent or stochastic gradient descent without the need to estimate the smoothness parameter of the objective function. However, there has not been a principled way to generalize the Polyak step size for algorithms with momentum accelerations. This paper presents a general framework to set the learning rate adaptively for first-order optimization methods with momentum, motivated by the derivation of Polyak step size. It is shown that the resulting techniques are much less sensitive to the choice of momentum parameter and may avoid the oscillation of the heavy-ball method on ill-conditioned problems. These adaptive step sizes are further extended to the stochastic settings, which are attractive choices for stochastic gradient descent with momentum. Our methods are demonstrated to be more effective for stochastic gradient methods than prior adaptive step size algorithms in large-scale machine learning tasks.

Author Information

Xiaoyu Wang (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology)
Mikael Johansson (KTH Royal Institute of Technology)
Tong Zhang (HKUST)
Tong Zhang

Tong Zhang is a professor of Computer Science and Mathematics at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. His research interests are machine learning, big data and their applications. He obtained a BA in Mathematics and Computer Science from Cornell University, and a PhD in Computer Science from Stanford University. Before joining HKUST, Tong Zhang was a professor at Rutgers University, and worked previously at IBM, Yahoo as research scientists, Baidu as the director of Big Data Lab, and Tencent as the founding director of AI Lab. Tong Zhang was an ASA fellow and IMS fellow, and has served as the chair or area-chair in major machine learning conferences such as NIPS, ICML, and COLT, and has served as associate editors in top machine learning journals such as PAMI, JMLR, and Machine Learning Journal.

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