geodesic convexity, S-Divergence, matrix square root, nonconvex optimization


This paper is triggered by the preprint [P. Jain, C. Jin, S.M. Kakade, and P. Netrapalli. Computing matrix squareroot via non convex local search. Preprint, arXiv:1507.05854, 2015.], which analyzes gradient-descent for computing the square root of a positive definite matrix. Contrary to claims of Jain et al., the author’s experiments reveal that Newton-like methods compute matrix square roots rapidly and reliably, even for highly ill-conditioned matrices and without requiring com-mutativity. The author observes that gradient-descent converges very slowly primarily due to tiny step-sizes and ill-conditioning. The paper derives an alternative first-order method based on geodesic convexity; this method admits a transparent convergence analysis (< 1 page), attains linear rate, and displays reliable convergence even for rank deficient problems. Though superior to gradient-descent, ultimately this method is also outperformed by a well-known scaled Newton method. Nevertheless, the primary value of the paper is conceptual: it shows that for deriving gradient based methods for the matrix square root, the manifold geometric view of positive definite matrices can be much more advantageous than the Euclidean view.

abs_vol31_pp433-443.pdf (24 kB)

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