Proximal gradient methods have been found to be highly effective for solving minimization problems with non-negative constraints or L1-regularization. Under suitable nondegeneracy conditions, it is known that these algorithms identify the optimal sparsity pattern for these types of problems in a finite number of iterations. However, it is not known how many iterations this may take. We introduce the notion of the ''active-set complexity'', which in these cases is the number of iterations before an algorithm is guaranteed to have identified the final sparsity pattern. We further give a bound on the active-set complexity of proximal gradient methods in the common case of minimizing the sum of a strongly-convex smooth function and a separable convex non-smooth function.
This is a pre-print of an article published in Optimization Letters. The final authenticated version is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11590-018-1325-z.