The limitation of neural nets for approximation and optimization

We are interested in assessing the use of neural networks as surrogate models to approximate and minimize objective functions in optimization problems. While neural networks are widely used for machine learning tasks such as classification and regression, their application in solving optimization problems has been limited. Our study begins by determining the best activation function … Read more

Full-low evaluation methods for bound and linearly constrained derivative-free optimization

Derivative-free optimization (DFO) consists in finding the best value of an objective function without relying on derivatives. To tackle such problems, one may build approximate derivatives, using for instance finite-difference estimates. One may also design algorithmic strategies that perform space exploration and seek improvement over the current point. The first type of strategy often provides … Read more

Using orthogonally structured positive bases for constructing positive k-spanning sets with cosine measure guarantees

\(\) Positive spanning sets span a given vector space by nonnegative linear combinations of their elements. These have attracted significant attention in recent years, owing to their extensive use in derivative-free optimization. In this setting, the quality of a positive spanning set is assessed through its cosine measure, a geometric quantity that expresses how well … Read more

Expected decrease for derivative-free algorithms using random subspaces

Derivative-free algorithms seek the minimum of a given function based only on function values queried at appropriate points. Although these methods are widely used in practice, their performance is known to worsen as the problem dimension increases. Recent advances in developing randomized derivative-free techniques have tackled this issue by working in low-dimensional subspaces that are … Read more

PDFO: A Cross-Platform Package for Powell’s Derivative-Free Optimization Solvers

The late Professor M. J. D. Powell devised five trust-region derivative-free optimization methods, namely COBYLA, UOBYQA, NEWUOA, BOBYQA, and LINCOA. He also carefully implemented them into publicly available solvers, which are renowned for their robustness and efficiency. However, the solvers were implemented in Fortran 77 and hence may not be easily accessible to some users. … Read more

An Optimal Interpolation Set for Model-Based Derivative-Free Optimization Methods

This paper demonstrates the optimality of an interpolation set employed in derivative-free trust-region methods. This set is optimal in the sense that it minimizes the constant of well-poisedness in a ball centred at the starting point. It is chosen as the default initial interpolation set by many derivative-free trust-region methods based on underdetermined quadratic interpolation, … Read more

Efficient composite heuristics for integer bound constrained noisy optimization

This paper discusses a composite algorithm for bound constrained noisy derivative-free optimization problems with integer variables. This algorithm is an integer variant of the matrix adaptation evolution strategy. An integer derivative-free line search strategy along affine scaling matrix directions is used to generate candidate points. Each affine scaling matrix direction is a product of the … Read more

Worst-case evaluation complexity of a derivative-free quadratic regularization method

This short paper presents a derivative-free quadratic regularization method for unconstrained minimization of a smooth function with Lipschitz continuous gradient. At each iteration, trial points are computed by minimizing a quadratic regularization of a local model of the objective function. The models are based on forward finite-difference gradient approximations. By using a suitable acceptance condition … Read more

Direct search based on probabilistic descent in reduced spaces

Derivative-free algorithms seek the minimum value of a given objective function without using any derivative information. The performance of these methods often worsen as the dimension increases, a phenomenon predicted by their worst-case complexity guarantees. Nevertheless, recent algorithmic proposals have shown that incorporating randomization into otherwise deterministic frameworks could alleviate this effect for direct-search methods. … Read more

A general mathematical framework for constrained mixed-variable blackbox optimization problems with meta and categorical variables

A mathematical framework for modelling constrained mixed-variable optimization problems is presented in a blackbox optimization context. The framework introduces a new notation and allows solution strategies. The notation framework allows meta and categorical variables to be explicitly and efficiently modelled, which facilitates the solution of such problems. The new term meta variables is used to … Read more