Deflation Methods for Sparse PCA

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 21 (NIPS 2008)

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Lester Mackey


In analogy to the PCA setting, the sparse PCA problem is often solved by iteratively alternating between two subtasks: cardinality-constrained rank-one variance maximization and matrix deflation. While the former has received a great deal of attention in the literature, the latter is seldom analyzed and is typically borrowed without justification from the PCA context. In this work, we demonstrate that the standard PCA deflation procedure is seldom appropriate for the sparse PCA setting. To rectify the situation, we first develop several heuristic deflation alternatives with more desirable properties. We then reformulate the sparse PCA optimization problem to explicitly reflect the maximum additional variance objective on each round. The result is a generalized deflation procedure that typically outperforms more standard techniques on real-world datasets.