A Globally Convergent Algorithm for Nonconvex Optimization based on Block Coordinate Update

Y. Xu and W. Yin

Journal of Scientific Computing


Nonconvex optimization problems arise in many areas of computational science and engineering and are (approximately) solved by a variety of algorithms. Existing algorithms usually only have local convergence or subsequence convergence of their iterates.

We propose an algorithm for a generic nonconvex optimization formulation, establish the convergence of its whole iterate sequence to a critical point along with a rate of convergence, and numerically demonstrate its efficiency.

Specially, we consider the problem of minimizing a nonconvex objective function. Its variables can be treated as one block or be partitioned into multiple disjoint blocks. It is assumed that each non-differentiable component of the objective function or each constraint applies to one block of variables. The differentiable components of the objective function, however, can apply to one or multiple blocks of variables together.

Our algorithm updates one block of variables at time by minimizing a certain prox-linear surrogate. The order of update can be either deterministic or randomly shuffled in each round. We obtain the convergence of the whole iterate sequence under fairly loose conditions including, in particular, the Kurdyka-Lojasiewicz (KL) condition, which is satisfied by a broad class of nonconvex/nonsmooth applications.

We apply our convergence result to the coordinate descent method for non-convex regularized linear regression and also a modified rank-one residue iteration method for nonnegative matrix factorization. We show that both the methods have global convergence. Numerically, we test our algorithm on nonnegative matrix and tensor factorization problems, with random shuffling enable to avoid local solutions.


Y. Xu and W. Yin, A globally convergent algorithm for nonconvex optimization based on block coordinate update, Journal of Scientific Computing, online first, also as arXiv:1410.1386, 2014.

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