OPT 2021: Optimization for Machine Learning

Courtney Paquette · Quanquan Gu · Oliver Hinder · Katya Scheinberg · Sebastian Stich · Martin Takac

Abstract Workshop Website
Mon 13 Dec, 3:15 a.m. PST


OPT 2021 will bring experts in optimization to share their perspectives while leveraging crossover experts in ML to share their views and recent advances. OPT 2021 honors this tradition of bringing together people from optimization and from ML in order to promote and generate new interactions between the two communities.

To foster the spirit of innovation and collaboration, a goal of this workshop, OPT 2021 will focus the contributed talks on research in “Beyond Worst-case Complexity”. Classical optimization analyses measure the performances of algorithms based on (1). the computation cost and (2). convergence for any input into the algorithm. Yet algorithms with worse traditional complexity (e.g. SGD and its variants, ADAM, etc), are increasingly popular in practice for training deep neural networks and other ML tasks. This leads to questions such as what are good modeling assumptions for ML problems to measure an optimization algorithm’s success and how can we leverage these to better understand the performances of known (and new) algorithms. For instance, typical optimization problems in ML may be better conditioned than their worst-case counterparts in part because the problems are highly structured and/or high-dimensional (large number of features/samples). One could leverage this observation to design algorithms with better “average-case” complexity. Moreover, increasing research seems to indicate an intimate connection between the optimization algorithm and how well it performs on the test data (generalization). This new area of research in ML and its deep ties to optimization warrants a necessary discussion between the two communities. Specifically, we aim to continue the discussion on the precise meaning of generalization and average-case complexity and to formalize what this means for optimization algorithms. By bringing together experts in both fields, OPT 2021 will foster insightful discussions around these topics and more.

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