Non-Smooth Weakly-Convex Finite-sum Coupled Compositional Optimization

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

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Quanqi Hu, Dixian Zhu, Tianbao Yang


This paper investigates new families of compositional optimization problems, called non-smooth weakly-convex finite-sum coupled compositional optimization (NSWC FCCO). There has been a growing interest in FCCO due to its wide-ranging applications in machine learning and AI, as well as its ability to address the shortcomings of stochastic algorithms based on empirical risk minimization. However, current research on FCCO presumes that both the inner and outer functions are smooth, limiting their potential to tackle a more diverse set of problems. Our research expands on this area by examining non-smooth weakly-convex FCCO, where the outer function is weakly convex and non-decreasing, and the inner function is weakly-convex. We analyze a single-loop algorithm and establish its complexity for finding an $\epsilon$-stationary point of the Moreau envelop of the objective function. Additionally, we also extend the algorithm for solving novel non-smooth weakly-convex tri-level finite-sum coupled compositional optimization problems, which feature a nested arrangement of three functions. Lastly, we explore the applications of our algorithms in deep learning for two-way partial AUC maximization and multi-instance two-way partial AUC maximization, using empirical studies to showcase the effectiveness of the proposed algorithms.