Complexity of Finding Stationary Points of Nonconvex Nonsmooth Functions

Jul 12, 2020



We provide the first non-asymptotic analysis for finding stationary points of nonsmooth, nonconvex functions. In particular, we study the class of Hadamard semi-differentiable functions, perhaps the largest class of nonsmooth functions for which the chain rule of calculus holds. This class contains important examples such as ReLU neural networks and others with non-differentiable activation functions. First, we show that finding an epsilon-stationary point with first-order methods is impossible in finite time. Therefore, we introduce the notion of (delta, epsilon)-stationarity, a generalization that allows for a point to be within distance delta of an epsilon-stationary point and reduces to epsilon-stationarity for smooth functions. We propose a series of randomized first-order methods and analyze their complexity of finding a (delta, epsilon)-stationary point. Furthermore, we provide a lower bound and show that our stochastic algorithm has min-max optimal dependence on delta. Empirically, our methods perform well for training ReLU neural networks.



About ICML 2020

The International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML) is the premier gathering of professionals dedicated to the advancement of the branch of artificial intelligence known as machine learning. ICML is globally renowned for presenting and publishing cutting-edge research on all aspects of machine learning used in closely related areas like artificial intelligence, statistics and data science, as well as important application areas such as machine vision, computational biology, speech recognition, and robotics. ICML is one of the fastest growing artificial intelligence conferences in the world. Participants at ICML span a wide range of backgrounds, from academic and industrial researchers, to entrepreneurs and engineers, to graduate students and postdocs.

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