Rows vs Columns for Linear Systems of Equations - Randomized Kaczmarz or Coordinate Descent?

20 Jun 2014  ·  Aaditya Ramdas ·

This paper is about randomized iterative algorithms for solving a linear system of equations $X \beta = y$ in different settings. Recent interest in the topic was reignited when Strohmer and Vershynin (2009) proved the linear convergence rate of a Randomized Kaczmarz (RK) algorithm that works on the rows of $X$ (data points). Following that, Leventhal and Lewis (2010) proved the linear convergence of a Randomized Coordinate Descent (RCD) algorithm that works on the columns of $X$ (features). The aim of this paper is to simplify our understanding of these two algorithms, establish the direct relationships between them (though RK is often compared to Stochastic Gradient Descent), and examine the algorithmic commonalities or tradeoffs involved with working on rows or columns. We also discuss Kernel Ridge Regression and present a Kaczmarz-style algorithm that works on data points and having the advantage of solving the problem without ever storing or forming the Gram matrix, one of the recognized problems encountered when scaling kernelized methods.

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