Zeroth Order Optimization by a Mixture of Evolution StrategiesDownload PDF

25 Sep 2019 (modified: 24 Dec 2019)ICLR 2020 Conference Blind SubmissionReaders: Everyone
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  • Abstract: Evolution strategies or zeroth-order optimization algorithms have become popular in some areas of optimization and machine learning where only the oracle of function value evaluations is available. The central idea in the design of the algorithms is by querying function values of some perturbed points in the neighborhood of the current update and constructing a pseudo-gradient using the function values. In recent years, there is a growing interest in developing new ways of perturbation. Though the new perturbation methods are well motivating, most of them are criticized for lack of convergence guarantees even when the underlying function is convex. Perhaps the only methods that enjoy convergence guarantees are the ones that sample the perturbed points uniformly from a unit sphere or from a multivariate Gaussian distribution with an isotropic covariance. In this work, we tackle the non-convergence issue and propose sampling perturbed points from a mixture of distributions. Experiments show that our proposed method can identify the best perturbation scheme for the convergence and might also help to leverage the complementariness of different perturbation schemes.
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