Abstract: Optimizing an objective function with uncertainty awareness is well-known to improve the accuracy and confidence of optimization solutions. Meanwhile, another relevant but very different question remains yet open: how to model and quantify the uncertainty of an optimization algorithm (a.k.a., optimizer) itself? To close such a gap, the prerequisite is to consider the optimizers as sampled from a distribution, rather than a few prefabricated and fixed update rules. We first take the novel angle to consider the algorithmic space of optimizers, and provide definitions for the optimizer prior and likelihood, that intrinsically determine the posterior and therefore uncertainty. We then leverage the recent advance of learning to optimize (L2O) for the space parameterization, with the end-to-end training pipeline built via variational inference, referred to as uncertainty-aware L2O (UA-L2O). Our study represents the first effort to recognize and quantify the uncertainty of the optimization algorithm. The extensive numerical results show that, UA-L2O achieves superior uncertainty calibration with accurate confidence estimation and tight confidence intervals, suggesting the improved posterior estimation thanks to considering optimizer uncertainty. Intriguingly, UA-L2O even improves optimization performances for two out of three test functions, the loss function in data privacy attack, and four of five cases of the energy function in protein docking. Our codes are released at https://github.com/Shen-Lab/Bayesian-L2O.
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