Communication­-Efficient Distributed Block Minimization for Nonlinear Kernel Machines

author: Cho-Jui Hsieh, Department of Statistics, University of California, Davis
published: Oct. 9, 2017,   recorded: August 2017,   views: 2

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Kernel machines often yield superior predictive performance on various tasks; however, they suffer from severe computational challenges. In this paper, we show how to overcome the important challenge of speeding up kernel machines. In particular, we develop a parallel block minimization framework for solving kernel machines, including kernel SVM and kernel logistic regression. Our framework proceeds by dividing the problem into smaller subproblems by forming a block-diagonal approximation of the Hessian matrix. The subproblems are then solved approximately in parallel. After that, a communication efficient line search procedure is developed to ensure sufficient reduction of the objective function value at each iteration. We prove global linear convergence rate of the proposed method with a wide class of subproblem solvers, and our analysis covers strongly convex and some non-strongly convex functions. We apply our algorithm to solve large-scale kernel SVM problems on distributed systems, and show a significant improvement over existing parallel solvers. As an example, on the covtype dataset with half-a-million samples, our algorithm can obtain an approximate solution with 96% accuracy in 20 seconds using 32 machines, while all the other parallel kernel SVM solvers require more than 2000 seconds to achieve a solution with 95% accuracy. Moreover, our algorithm can scale to very large data sets, such as the kdd algebra dataset with 8 million samples and 20 million features.

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