On the Interplay Between Stepsize Tuning and Progressive Sharpening

Published: 26 Oct 2023, Last Modified: 13 Dec 2023NeurIPS 2023 Workshop PosterEveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
Keywords: deep learning, stepsize tuners, linesearch, Polyak stepsize, progressive sharpening, edge of Stability.
TL;DR: The performance of stepsize tuners is intrinsically dependent of the progressive sharpening they induce in deep learning.
Abstract: Recent empirical work has revealed an intriguing property of deep learning models by which the sharpness (largest eigenvalue of the Hessian) increases throughout optimization until it stabilizes around a critical value at which the optimizer operates at the edge of stability, given a \emph{fixed} stepsize [Cohen et al, 2022]. We investigate empirically how the sharpness evolves when using stepsize-tuners, the Armijo linesearch and Polyak stepsizes, that adapt the stepsize along the iterations to local quantities such as, implicitly, the sharpness itself. We find that the surprisingly poor performance of a classical Armijo linesearch may be well explained by its tendency to ever-increase the sharpness of the objective in the full or large batch regimes. On the other hand, we observe that Polyak stepsizes operate generally at the edge of stability or even slightly beyond, while outperforming its Armijo and constant stepsizes counterparts. We conclude with an analysis that suggests unlocking stepsize tuners requires an understanding of the joint dynamics of the step size and the sharpness.
Submission Number: 91