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Poster

in

Workshop: AI for Science: from Theory to Practice

## Learning to Relax: Setting Solver Parameters Across a Sequence of Linear System Instances

### Misha Khodak · Edmond Chow · Maria-Florina Balcan · Ameet Talwalkar

Abstract:
Solving a linear system $\mathbf{Ax}=\mathbf{b}$ is a fundamental scientific computing primitive, and numerous solvers and preconditioners have been developed. These come with parameters whose optimal values depend on the system being solved and are often impossible or expensive to identify; thus in practice sub-optimal heuristics are used. We consider the common setting in which many related linear systems are solved, e.g. numerical simulation. In this scenario, can we sequentially choose parameters that attain a near-optimal overall number of iterations, without extra matrix computations? We answer in the affirmative for Successive Over-Relaxation (SOR), a standard solver whose parameter $\omega$ has a strong impact on its runtime. For this method, we prove that a bandit online learning algorithm—using only the number of iterations as feedback—can select parameters for a sequence of instances such that the overall cost approaches that of the best fixed $\omega$ as the sequence length increases. Furthermore, when given additional structural information, we show that a *contextual* bandit method asymptotically achieves the performance of the *instance-optimal* policy, which selects the best $\omega$ for each instance. Our work provides the first learning-theoretic treatment of high-precision linear system solvers and the first end-to-end guarantees for data-driven scientific computing, demonstrating theoretically the potential to speed up numerical methods using well-understood learning algorithms.

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