Keywords: [ optimization loops ] [ unified convergence analysis ] [ Bilevel Optimization ] [ lower bound. ]
Bilevel optimization has arisen as a powerful tool for solving a variety of machine learning problems. Two current popular bilevel optimizers AID-BiO and ITD-BiO naturally involve solving one or two sub-problems, and consequently, whether we solve these problems with loops (that take many iterations) or without loops (that take only a few iterations) can significantly affect the overall computational efficiency. Existing studies in the literature cover only some of those implementation choices, and the complexity bounds available are not refined enough to enable rigorous comparison among different implementations. In this paper, we first establish unified convergence analysis for both AID-BiO and ITD-BiO that are applicable to all implementation choices of loops. We then specialize our results to characterize the computational complexity for all implementations, which enable an explicit comparison among them. Our result indicates that for AID-BiO, the loop for estimating the optimal point of the inner function is beneficial for overall efficiency, although it causes higher complexity for each update step, and the loop for approximating the outer-level Hessian-inverse-vector product reduces the gradient complexity. For ITD-BiO, the two loops always coexist, and our convergence upper and lower bounds show that such loops are necessary to guarantee a vanishing convergence error, whereas the no-loop scheme suffers from an unavoidable non-vanishing convergence error. Our numerical experiments further corroborate our theoretical results.