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The Power of Preconditioning in Overparameterized Low-Rank Matrix Sensing

Xingyu Xu · Yandi Shen · Yuejie Chi · Cong Ma

Exhibit Hall 1 #723
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Abstract: We propose $\textsf{ScaledGD($\lambda$)}$, a preconditioned gradient descent method to tackle the low-rank matrix sensing problem when the true rank is unknown, and when the matrix is possibly ill-conditioned. Using overparametrized factor representations, $\textsf{ScaledGD($\lambda$)}$ starts from a small random initialization, and proceeds by gradient descent with a specific form of preconditioning with a fixed damping term to combat overparameterization. At the expense of light computational overhead incurred by preconditioners, $\textsf{ScaledGD($\lambda$)}$ is remarkably robust to ill-conditioning compared to vanilla gradient descent ($\mathsf{GD}$). Specifically, we show that, under the Gaussian design, $\textsf{ScaledGD($\lambda$)}$ converges to the true low-rank matrix at a constant linear rate that is independent of the condition number (apart from a short nearly dimension-free burdening period), with near-optimal sample complexity. This significantly improves upon the convergence rate of vanilla $\mathsf{GD}$ which suffers from a polynomial dependency with the condition number. Our work provides evidence on the power of preconditioning in accelerating the convergence without hurting generalization in overparameterized learning.

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