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Sinkhorn Distances: Lightspeed Computation of Optimal Transport
Marco Cuturi

Sun Dec 08 12:12 PM -- 12:16 PM (PST) @ Harvey's Convention Center Floor, CC

Optimal transportation distances are a fundamental family of parameterized distances for histograms in the probability simplex. Despite their appealing theoretical properties, excellent performance and intuitive formulation, their computation involves the resolution of a linear program whose cost is prohibitive whenever the histograms' dimension exceeds a few hundreds. We propose in this work a new family of optimal transportation distances that look at transportation problems from a maximum-entropy perspective. We smooth the classical optimal transportation problem with an entropic regularization term, and show that the resulting optimum is also a distance which can be computed through Sinkhorn's matrix scaling algorithm at a speed that is several orders of magnitude faster than that of transportation solvers. We also report improved performance on the MNIST benchmark problem over competing distances.

Author Information

Marco Cuturi (Apple)

Marco Cuturi is a research scientist at Apple, in Paris. He received his Ph.D. in 11/2005 from the Ecole des Mines de Paris in applied mathematics. Before that he graduated from National School of Statistics (ENSAE) with a master degree (MVA) from ENS Cachan. He worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute of Statistical Mathematics, Tokyo, between 11/2005 and 3/2007 and then in the financial industry between 4/2007 and 9/2008. After working at the ORFE department of Princeton University as a lecturer between 2/2009 and 8/2010, he was at the Graduate School of Informatics of Kyoto University between 9/2010 and 9/2016 as a tenured associate professor. He joined ENSAE in 9/2016 as a professor, where he is now working part-time. He was at Google between 10/2018 and 1/2022. His main employment is now with Apple, since 1/2022, as a research scientist working on fundamental aspects of machine learning.

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