Stochastic First-order Methods for Convex and Nonconvex Functional Constrained Optimization

7 Aug 2019  ·  Digvijay Boob, Qi Deng, Guanghui Lan ·

Functional constrained optimization is becoming more and more important in machine learning and operations research. Such problems have potential applications in risk-averse machine learning, semisupervised learning, and robust optimization among others. In this paper, we first present a novel Constraint Extrapolation (ConEx) method for solving convex functional constrained problems, which utilizes linear approximations of the constraint functions to define the extrapolation (or acceleration) step. We show that this method is a unified algorithm that achieves the best-known rate of convergence for solving different functional constrained convex composite problems, including convex or strongly convex, and smooth or nonsmooth problems with a stochastic objective and/or stochastic constraints. Many of these rates of convergence were in fact obtained for the first time in the literature. In addition, ConEx is a single-loop algorithm that does not involve any penalty subproblems. Contrary to existing primal-dual methods, it does not require the projection of Lagrangian multipliers into a (possibly unknown) bounded set. Second, for nonconvex functional constrained problems, we introduce a new proximal point method that transforms the initial nonconvex problem into a sequence of convex problems by adding quadratic terms to both the objective and constraints. Under a certain MFCQ-type assumption, we establish the convergence and rate of convergence of this method to KKT points when the convex subproblems are solved exactly or inexactly. For large-scale and stochastic problems, we present a more practical proximal point method in which the approximate solutions of the subproblems are computed by the aforementioned ConEx method. To the best of our knowledge, most of these convergence and complexity results of the proximal point method for nonconvex problems also seem to be new in the literature.

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