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On the Complexity of Approximating Wasserstein Barycenters

Alexey Kroshnin · Nazarii Tupitsa · Darina Dvinskikh · Pavel Dvurechenskii · Alexander Gasnikov · Cesar Uribe

Pacific Ballroom #203

Keywords: [ Parallel and Distributed Learning ] [ Optimization - Others ] [ Large Scale Learning and Big Data ] [ Convex Optimization ]

Abstract: We study the complexity of approximating the Wasserstein barycenter of $m$ discrete measures, or histograms of size $n$, by contrasting two alternative approaches that use entropic regularization. The first approach is based on the Iterative Bregman Projections (IBP) algorithm for which our novel analysis gives a complexity bound proportional to ${mn^2}/{\varepsilon^2}$ to approximate the original non-regularized barycenter. On the other hand, using an approach based on accelerated gradient descent, we obtain a complexity proportional to~${mn^{2}}/{\varepsilon}$. As a byproduct, we show that the regularization parameter in both approaches has to be proportional to $\varepsilon$, which causes instability of both algorithms when the desired accuracy is high. To overcome this issue, we propose a novel proximal-IBP algorithm, which can be seen as a proximal gradient method, which uses IBP on each iteration to make a proximal step. We also consider the question of scalability of these algorithms using approaches from distributed optimization and show that the first algorithm can be implemented in a centralized distributed setting (master/slave), while the second one is amenable to a more general decentralized distributed setting with an arbitrary network topology.

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