Geometry of First-Order Methods and Adaptive Acceleration

First-order operator splitting methods are ubiquitous among many fields through science and engineering, such as inverse problems, signal/image processing, statistics, data science and machine learning, to name a few. In this paper, we study a geometric property of first-order methods when applying to solve non-smooth optimization problems. With the tool of “partial smoothness”, we design a framework to analyze the trajectory of the fixed-point sequence generated by first-order methods and show that locally, the fixed-point sequence settles onto a regular trajectory such as a straight line or a spiral. Based on this finding, we discuss the limitation of current widely used “inertial acceleration” technique, and propose a trajectory following adaptive acceleration algorithm. Global convergence is established for the proposed acceleration scheme based on the perturbation of fixed-point iteration. Locally, we first build connections between the acceleration scheme and the well-studied “vector extrapolation technique” in the field of numerical analysis, and then discuss local acceleration guarantees of the proposed acceleration scheme. Moreover, our result provides a geometric interpretation of these vector extrapolation techniques. Numerical experiments on various first-order methods are provided to demonstrate the advantage of the proposed adaptive acceleration scheme.



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