Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 35 (NeurIPS 2022) Main Conference Track
Daouda Sow, Kaiyi Ji, Yingbin Liang
Bilevel optimization has arisen as a powerful tool in modern machine learning. However, due to the nested structure of bilevel optimization, even gradient-based methods require second-order derivative approximations via Jacobian- or/and Hessian-vector computations, which can be costly and unscalable in practice. Recently, Hessian-free bilevel schemes have been proposed to resolve this issue, where the general idea is to use zeroth- or first-order methods to approximate the full hypergradient of the bilevel problem. However, we empirically observe that such approximation can lead to large variance and unstable training, but estimating only the response Jacobian matrix as a partial component of the hypergradient turns out to be extremely effective. To this end, we propose a new Hessian-free method, which adopts the zeroth-order-like method to approximate the response Jacobian matrix via taking difference between two optimization paths. Theoretically, we provide the convergence rate analysis for the proposed algorithms, where our key challenge is to characterize the approximation and smoothness properties of the trajectory-dependent estimator, which can be of independent interest. This is the first known convergence rate result for this type of Hessian-free bilevel algorithms. Experimentally, we demonstrate that the proposed algorithms outperform baseline bilevel optimizers on various bilevel problems. Particularly, in our experiment on few-shot meta-learning with ResNet-12 network over the miniImageNet dataset, we show that our algorithm outperforms baseline meta-learning algorithms, while other baseline bilevel optimizers do not solve such meta-learning problems within a comparable time frame.