Never Go Full Batch (in Stochastic Convex Optimization)

Idan Amir · Yair Carmon · Tomer Koren · Roi Livni

Keywords: [ Theory ] [ Optimization ]

Abstract: We study the generalization performance of $\text{\emph{full-batch}}$ optimization algorithms for stochastic convex optimization: these are first-order methods that only access the exact gradient of the empirical risk (rather than gradients with respect to individual data points), that include a wide range of algorithms such as gradient descent, mirror descent, and their regularized and/or accelerated variants. We provide a new separation result showing that, while algorithms such as stochastic gradient descent can generalize and optimize the population risk to within $\epsilon$ after $O(1/\epsilon^2)$ iterations, full-batch methods either need at least $\Omega(1/\epsilon^4)$ iterations or exhibit a dimension-dependent sample complexity.

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