Adaptive Sampling Quasi-Newton Methods for Zeroth-Order Stochastic Optimization

We consider unconstrained stochastic optimization problems with no available gradient information. Such problems arise in settings from derivative-free simulation optimization to reinforcement learning. We propose an adaptive sampling quasi-Newton method where we estimate the gradients of a stochastic function using finite differences within a common random number framework. We develop modified versions of a norm … Read more

Adaptive Sampling Quasi-Newton Methods for Derivative-Free Stochastic Optimization

We consider stochastic zero-order optimization problems, which arise in settings from simulation optimization to reinforcement learning. We propose an adaptive sampling quasi-Newton method where we estimate the gradients of a stochastic function using finite differences within a common random number framework. We employ modified versions of a norm test and an inner product quasi-Newton test … Read more

Derivative-free optimization methods

In many optimization problems arising from scientific, engineering and artificial intelligence applications, objective and constraint functions are available only as the output of a black-box or simulation oracle that does not provide derivative information. Such settings necessitate the use of methods for derivative-free, or zeroth-order, optimization. We provide a review and perspectives on developments in … Read more

A Method for Convex Black-Box Integer Global Optimization

We study the problem of minimizing a convex function on the integer lattice when the function cannot be evaluated at noninteger points. We propose a new underestimator that does not require access to (sub)gradients of the objective but, rather, uses secant linear functions that interpolate the objective function at previously evaluated points. These linear mappings … Read more

Derivative-Free Robust Optimization by Outer Approximations

We develop an algorithm for minimax problems that arise in robust optimization in the absence of objective function derivatives. The algorithm utilizes an extension of methods for inexact outer approximation in sampling a potentially infinite-cardinality uncertainty set. Clarke stationarity of the algorithm output is established alongside desirable features of the model-based trust-region subproblems encountered. We … Read more

Manifold Sampling for Optimization of Nonconvex Functions that are Piecewise Linear Compositions of Smooth Components

We develop a manifold sampling algorithm for the minimization of a nonsmooth composite function $f \defined \psi + h \circ F$ when $\psi$ is smooth with known derivatives, $h$ is a known, nonsmooth, piecewise linear function, and $F$ is smooth but expensive to evaluate. The trust-region algorithm classifies points in the domain of $h$ as … Read more

Manifold Sampling for L1 Nonconvex Optimization

We present a new algorithm, called manifold sampling, for the unconstrained minimization of a nonsmooth composite function $h\circ F$ when $h$ has known structure. In particular, by classifying points in the domain of the nonsmooth function $h$ into manifolds, we adapt search directions within a trust-region framework based on knowledge of manifolds intersecting the current … Read more

Randomized Derivative-Free Optimization of Noisy Convex Functions

We propose STARS, a randomized derivative-free algorithm for unconstrained optimization when the function evaluations are contaminated with random noise. STARS takes dynamic, noise-adjusted smoothing step-sizes that minimize the least-squares error between the true directional derivative of a noisy function and its finite difference approximation. We provide a convergence rate analysis of STARS for solving convex … Read more

A Taxonomy of Constraints in Simulation-Based Optimization

The types of constraints encountered in black-box and simulation-based optimization problems differ significantly from those treated in nonlinear programming. We introduce a characterization of constraints to address this situation. We provide formal definitions for several constraint classes and present illustrative examples in the context of the resulting taxonomy. This taxonomy, denoted QRAK, is useful for … Read more

Obtaining Quadratic Models of Noisy Functions

When derivatives of a nonlinear objective function are unavailable, many derivative- free optimization algorithms rely on interpolation-based models of the function. But what if the function values are contaminated by noise, as in most of the simulation- based problems typically encountered in this area? We propose to obtain linear and quadratic models by using knowledge … Read more