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Novel Hessian approximations in optimization algorithms

Time: Fri 2022-01-28 13.00

Location: U41, Brinellvägen 26, Stockholm

Language: English

Subject area: Electrical Engineering

Doctoral student: Erik Berglund , Reglerteknik

Opponent: Associate Professor Pontus Giselsson,

Supervisor: Professor Mikael Johansson, Reglerteknik

QC 20220120


There are several benefits of taking the Hessian of the objective function into account when designing optimization algorithms. Compared to using strictly gradient-based algorithms, Hessian-based algorithms usually require fewer iterations to converge. They are generally less sensitive to tuning of parameters and can better handle ill-conditioned problems. Yet, they are not universally used, due to there being several challenges associated with adapting them to various challenging settings. This thesis deals with Hessian-based optimization algorithms for large-scale, distributed and zeroth-order problems. For the large-scale setting, we contribute with a new way of deriving limited memory quasi-Newton methods, which we show can achieve better results than traditional limited memory quasi-Newton methods with less memory for some logistic and linear regression problems. For the distributed setting, we perform an analysis of how the error of a Newton-step is affected by the condition number and the number of iterations of a consensus-algorithm based on averaging, We show that the number of iterations needed to solve a quadratic problem with relative error less than ε grows logarithmically with 1/ε and also with the condition number of the Hessian of the centralized problem. For the zeroth order setting, we exploit the fact that a finite difference estimate of the directional derivative works as an approximate sketching technique, and use this to propose a zeroth order extension of a sketched Newton method that has been developed to solve large-scale problems. With the extension of this method to the zeroth order setting, we address the combined challenge of large-scale and zeroth order problems.