- Keywords: nmf, convexity, nonconvex optimization, average-case-analysis
- Abstract: Non-negative matrix factorization (NMF) is a highly celebrated algorithm for matrix decomposition that guarantees strictly non-negative factors. The underlying optimization problem is computationally intractable, yet in practice gradient descent based solvers often find good solutions. This gap between computational hardness and practical success mirrors recent observations in deep learning, where it has been the focus of extensive discussion and analysis. In this paper we revisit the NMF optimization problem and analyze its loss landscape in non-worst-case settings. It has recently been observed that gradients in deep networks tend to point towards the final minimizer throughout the optimization. We show that a similar property holds (with high probability) for NMF, provably in a non-worst case model with a planted solution, and empirically across an extensive suite of real-world NMF problems. Our analysis predicts that this property becomes more likely with growing number of parameters, and experiments suggest that a similar trend might also hold for deep neural networks --- turning increasing data sets and models into a blessing from an optimization perspective.