Tight Dimension Independent Lower Bound on the Expected Convergence Rate for Diminishing Step Sizes in SGD

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32 (NeurIPS 2019)

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PHUONG_HA NGUYEN, Lam Nguyen, Marten van Dijk


We study the convergence of Stochastic Gradient Descent (SGD) for strongly convex objective functions. We prove for all $t$ a lower bound on the expected convergence rate after the $t$-th SGD iteration; the lower bound is over all possible sequences of diminishing step sizes. It implies that recently proposed sequences of step sizes at ICML 2018 and ICML 2019 are {\em universally} close to optimal in that the expected convergence rate after {\em each} iteration is within a factor $32$ of our lower bound. This factor is independent of dimension $d$. We offer a framework for comparing with lower bounds in state-of-the-art literature and when applied to SGD for strongly convex objective functions our lower bound is a significant factor $775\cdot d$ larger compared to existing work.