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# Distributed Optimization and Statistical Learning Via the Alternating Direction Method of Multipliers

23 May 2011-

TL;DR: It is argued that the alternating direction method of multipliers is well suited to distributed convex optimization, and in particular to large-scale problems arising in statistics, machine learning, and related areas.

Abstract: Many problems of recent interest in statistics and machine learning can be posed in the framework of convex optimization. Due to the explosion in size and complexity of modern datasets, it is increasingly important to be able to solve problems with a very large number of features or training examples. As a result, both the decentralized collection or storage of these datasets as well as accompanying distributed solution methods are either necessary or at least highly desirable. In this review, we argue that the alternating direction method of multipliers is well suited to distributed convex optimization, and in particular to large-scale problems arising in statistics, machine learning, and related areas. The method was developed in the 1970s, with roots in the 1950s, and is equivalent or closely related to many other algorithms, such as dual decomposition, the method of multipliers, Douglas–Rachford splitting, Spingarn's method of partial inverses, Dykstra's alternating projections, Bregman iterative algorithms for l1 problems, proximal methods, and others. After briefly surveying the theory and history of the algorithm, we discuss applications to a wide variety of statistical and machine learning problems of recent interest, including the lasso, sparse logistic regression, basis pursuit, covariance selection, support vector machines, and many others. We also discuss general distributed optimization, extensions to the nonconvex setting, and efficient implementation, including some details on distributed MPI and Hadoop MapReduce implementations.

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TL;DR: The many different interpretations of proximal operators and algorithms are discussed, their connections to many other topics in optimization and applied mathematics are described, some popular algorithms are surveyed, and a large number of examples of proxiesimal operators that commonly arise in practice are provided.

Abstract: This monograph is about a class of optimization algorithms called proximal algorithms. Much like Newton's method is a standard tool for solving unconstrained smooth optimization problems of modest size, proximal algorithms can be viewed as an analogous tool for nonsmooth, constrained, large-scale, or distributed versions of these problems. They are very generally applicable, but are especially well-suited to problems of substantial recent interest involving large or high-dimensional datasets. Proximal methods sit at a higher level of abstraction than classical algorithms like Newton's method: the base operation is evaluating the proximal operator of a function, which itself involves solving a small convex optimization problem. These subproblems, which generalize the problem of projecting a point onto a convex set, often admit closed-form solutions or can be solved very quickly with standard or simple specialized methods. Here, we discuss the many different interpretations of proximal operators and algorithms, describe their connections to many other topics in optimization and applied mathematics, survey some popular algorithms, and provide a large number of examples of proximal operators that commonly arise in practice.

3,174 citations

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TL;DR: A simple costless modification to iterative thresholding is introduced making the sparsity–undersampling tradeoff of the new algorithms equivalent to that of the corresponding convex optimization procedures, inspired by belief propagation in graphical models.

Abstract: Compressed sensing aims to undersample certain high-dimensional signals yet accurately reconstruct them by exploiting signal characteristics. Accurate reconstruction is possible when the object to be recovered is sufficiently sparse in a known basis. Currently, the best known sparsity–undersampling tradeoff is achieved when reconstructing by convex optimization, which is expensive in important large-scale applications. Fast iterative thresholding algorithms have been intensively studied as alternatives to convex optimization for large-scale problems. Unfortunately known fast algorithms offer substantially worse sparsity–undersampling tradeoffs than convex optimization. We introduce a simple costless modification to iterative thresholding making the sparsity–undersampling tradeoff of the new algorithms equivalent to that of the corresponding convex optimization procedures. The new iterative-thresholding algorithms are inspired by belief propagation in graphical models. Our empirical measurements of the sparsity–undersampling tradeoff for the new algorithms agree with theoretical calculations. We show that a state evolution formalism correctly derives the true sparsity–undersampling tradeoff. There is a surprising agreement between earlier calculations based on random convex polytopes and this apparently very different theoretical formalism.

2,025 citations

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^{1}TL;DR: Setting of the learning problem consistency of learning processes bounds on the rate of convergence ofLearning processes controlling the generalization ability of learning process constructing learning algorithms what is important in learning theory?

Abstract: Setting of the learning problem consistency of learning processes bounds on the rate of convergence of learning processes controlling the generalization ability of learning processes constructing learning algorithms what is important in learning theory?.

38,164 citations

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TL;DR: A new method for estimation in linear models called the lasso, which minimizes the residual sum of squares subject to the sum of the absolute value of the coefficients being less than a constant, is proposed.

Abstract: SUMMARY We propose a new method for estimation in linear models. The 'lasso' minimizes the residual sum of squares subject to the sum of the absolute value of the coefficients being less than a constant. Because of the nature of this constraint it tends to produce some coefficients that are exactly 0 and hence gives interpretable models. Our simulation studies suggest that the lasso enjoys some of the favourable properties of both subset selection and ridge regression. It produces interpretable models like subset selection and exhibits the stability of ridge regression. There is also an interesting relationship with recent work in adaptive function estimation by Donoho and Johnstone. The lasso idea is quite general and can be applied in a variety of statistical models: extensions to generalized regression models and tree-based models are briefly described.

36,018 citations

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TL;DR: In this article, the focus is on recognizing convex optimization problems and then finding the most appropriate technique for solving them, and a comprehensive introduction to the subject is given. But the focus of this book is not on the optimization problem itself, but on the problem of finding the appropriate technique to solve it.

Abstract: Convex optimization problems arise frequently in many different fields. A comprehensive introduction to the subject, this book shows in detail how such problems can be solved numerically with great efficiency. The focus is on recognizing convex optimization problems and then finding the most appropriate technique for solving them. The text contains many worked examples and homework exercises and will appeal to students, researchers and practitioners in fields such as engineering, computer science, mathematics, statistics, finance, and economics.

33,299 citations

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TL;DR: In this paper, a generalization of the analysis of variance is given for these models using log- likelihoods, illustrated by examples relating to four distributions; the Normal, Binomial (probit analysis, etc.), Poisson (contingency tables), and gamma (variance components).

Abstract: The technique of iterative weighted linear regression can be used to obtain maximum likelihood estimates of the parameters with observations distributed according to some exponential family and systematic effects that can be made linear by a suitable transformation. A generalization of the analysis of variance is given for these models using log- likelihoods. These generalized linear models are illustrated by examples relating to four distributions; the Normal, Binomial (probit analysis, etc.), Poisson (contingency tables) and gamma (variance components).

23,204 citations

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