Second-order Neural Network Training Using Complex-step Directional Derivative

15 Sep 2020  ·  Siyuan Shen, Tianjia Shao, Kun Zhou, Chenfanfu Jiang, Feng Luo, Yin Yang ·

While the superior performance of second-order optimization methods such as Newton's method is well known, they are hardly used in practice for deep learning because neither assembling the Hessian matrix nor calculating its inverse is feasible for large-scale problems. Existing second-order methods resort to various diagonal or low-rank approximations of the Hessian, which often fail to capture necessary curvature information to generate a substantial improvement. On the other hand, when training becomes batch-based (i.e., stochastic), noisy second-order information easily contaminates the training procedure unless expensive safeguard is employed. In this paper, we adopt a numerical algorithm for second-order neural network training. We tackle the practical obstacle of Hessian calculation by using the complex-step finite difference (CSFD) -- a numerical procedure adding an imaginary perturbation to the function for derivative computation. CSFD is highly robust, efficient, and accurate (as accurate as the analytic result). This method allows us to literally apply any known second-order optimization methods for deep learning training. Based on it, we design an effective Newton Krylov procedure. The key mechanism is to terminate the stochastic Krylov iteration as soon as a disturbing direction is found so that unnecessary computation can be avoided. During the optimization, we monitor the approximation error in the Taylor expansion to adjust the step size. This strategy combines advantages of line search and trust region methods making our method preserves good local and global convergency at the same time. We have tested our methods in various deep learning tasks. The experiments show that our method outperforms exiting methods, and it often converges one-order faster. We believe our method will inspire a wide-range of new algorithms for deep learning and numerical optimization.

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