On the Convergence of Nesterov's Accelerated Gradient Method in Stochastic Settings

Jul 12, 2020

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We study Nesterov's accelerated gradient method in the stochastic approximation setting (unbiased gradients with bounded variance) and the finite sum setting (where randomness is due to sampling mini-batches). To build better insight into the behavior of Nesterov's method in stochastic settings, we focus throughout on objectives that are smooth, strongly-convex, and twice continuously differentiable. In the stochastic approximation setting, Nesterov's method converges to a neighborhood of the optimal point at the same accelerated rate as in the deterministic setting. Perhaps surprisingly, in the finite-sum setting we prove that Nesterov's method may diverge with the usual choice of step-size and momentum, unless additional conditions on the problem related to conditioning and data coherence are satisfied. Our results shed light as to why Nesterov's method may fail to converge or achieve acceleration in the finite-sum setting.

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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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