Projection-Free Optimization on Uniformly Convex Sets

Thomas Kerdreux · Alexandre d'Aspremont · Sebastian Pokutta

The Frank-Wolfe method solves smooth constrained convex optimization problems at a generic sublinear rate of $\mathcal{O}(1/T)$, and it (or its variants) enjoys accelerated convergence rates for two fundamental classes of constraints: polytopes and strongly-convex sets. Uniformly convex sets non-trivially subsume strongly convex sets and form a large variety of \textit{curved} convex sets commonly encountered in machine learning and signal processing. For instance, the $\ell_p$-balls are uniformly convex for all $p > 1$, but strongly convex for $p\in]1,2]$ only. We show that these sets systematically induce accelerated convergence rates for the original Frank-Wolfe algorithm, which continuously interpolate between known rates. Our accelerated convergence rates emphasize that it is the curvature of the constraint sets -- not just their strong convexity -- that leads to accelerated convergence rates. These results also importantly highlight that the Frank-Wolfe algorithm is adaptive to much more generic constraint set structures, thus explaining faster empirical convergence. Finally, we also show accelerated convergence rates when the set is only locally uniformly convex around the optima and provide similar results in online linear optimization.

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