Boosting Frank-Wolfe by Chasing Gradients

Part of Proceedings of the International Conference on Machine Learning 1 pre-proceedings (ICML 2020)

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Cyrille Combettes, Sebastian Pokutta


The Frank-Wolfe algorithm has become a popular first-order optimization algorithm for it is simple and projection-free, and it has been successfully applied to a variety of real-world problems. Its main drawback however lies in its convergence rate, which can be excessively slow due to naive descent directions. We propose to speed up the Frank-Wolfe algorithm by better aligning the descent direction with that of the negative gradient via a subroutine. This subroutine chases the negative gradient direction in a matching pursuit-style while still preserving the projection-free property. Although the approach is reasonably natural, it produces very significant results. We derive convergence rates $\mathcal{O}(1/t)$ to $\mathcal{O}(e^{-\omega t})$ of our method and we demonstrate its competitive advantage both per iteration and in CPU time over the state-of-the-art in a series of computational experiments.