What is Local Optimality in Nonconvex-Nonconcave Minimax Optimization?

Jul 12, 2020

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Minimax optimization has found extensive applications in modern machine learning, in settings such as generative adversarial networks (GANs), adversarial training and multi-agent reinforcement learning. As most of these applications involve continuous nonconvex-nonconcave formulations, a very basic question arises—“what is a proper definition of local optima?” Most previous work answers this question using classical notions of equilibria from simultaneous games, where the min-player and the max-player act simultaneously. In contrast, most applications in machine learning, including GANs and adversarial training, correspond to sequential games, where the order of which player acts first is crucial (since minimax is in general not equal to maximin due to the nonconvex-nonconcave nature of the problems). The main contribution of this paper is to propose a proper mathematical definition of local optimality for this sequential setting—local minimax, as well as to present its properties and existence results. Finally, we establish a strong connection to a basic local search algorithm—gradient descent ascent (GDA): under mild conditions, all stable limit points of GDA are exactly local minimax points up to some degenerate points.

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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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