Stochastic Gradient Descent in Correlated Settings: A Study on Gaussian Processes

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 pre-proceedings (NeurIPS 2020)

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Hao Chen, Lili Zheng, Raed AL Kontar, Garvesh Raskutti


Stochastic gradient descent (SGD) and its variants have established themselves as the go-to algorithms for large-scale machine learning problems with independent samples due to their generalization performance and intrinsic computational advantage. However, the fact that the stochastic gradient is a biased estimator of the full gradient with correlated samples has led to the lack of theoretical understanding of how SGD behaves under correlated settings and hindered its use in such cases. In this paper, we focus on the Gaussian process (GP) and take a step forward towards breaking the barrier by proving minibatch SGD converges to a critical point of the full loss function, and recovers model hyperparameters with rate $O(\frac{1}{K})$ up to a statistical error term depending on the minibatch size. Numerical studies on both simulated and real datasets demonstrate that minibatch SGD has better generalization over state-of-the-art GP methods while reducing the computational burden and opening a new, previously unexplored, data size regime for GPs.