Algorithmic Theory of ODEs and Sampling from Well-conditioned Logconcave Densities

15 Dec 2018  ·  Yin Tat Lee, Zhao Song, Santosh S. Vempala ·

Sampling logconcave functions arising in statistics and machine learning has been a subject of intensive study. Recent developments include analyses for Langevin dynamics and Hamiltonian Monte Carlo (HMC). While both approaches have dimension-independent bounds for the underlying $\mathit{continuous}$ processes under sufficiently strong smoothness conditions, the resulting discrete algorithms have complexity and number of function evaluations growing with the dimension. Motivated by this problem, in this paper, we give a general algorithm for solving multivariate ordinary differential equations whose solution is close to the span of a known basis of functions (e.g., polynomials or piecewise polynomials). The resulting algorithm has polylogarithmic depth and essentially tight runtime - it is nearly linear in the size of the representation of the solution. We apply this to the sampling problem to obtain a nearly linear implementation of HMC for a broad class of smooth, strongly logconcave densities, with the number of iterations (parallel depth) and gradient evaluations being $\mathit{polylogarithmic}$ in the dimension (rather than polynomial as in previous work). This class includes the widely-used loss function for logistic regression with incoherent weight matrices and has been subject of much study recently. We also give a faster algorithm with $ \mathit{polylogarithmic~depth}$ for the more general and standard class of strongly convex functions with Lipschitz gradient. These results are based on (1) an improved contraction bound for the exact HMC process and (2) logarithmic bounds on the degree of polynomials that approximate solutions of the differential equations arising in implementing HMC.

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