Implicit Bias of Gradient Descent for Logistic Regression at the Edge of Stability

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

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Jingfeng Wu, Vladimir Braverman, Jason D. Lee


Recent research has observed that in machine learning optimization, gradient descent (GD) often operates at the edge of stability (EoS) [Cohen et al., 2021], where the stepsizes are set to be large, resulting in non-monotonic losses induced by the GD iterates. This paper studies the convergence and implicit bias of constant-stepsize GD for logistic regression on linearly separable data in the EoS regime. Despite the presence of local oscillations, we prove that the logistic loss can be minimized by GD with any constant stepsize over a long time scale. Furthermore, we prove that with any constant stepsize, the GD iterates tend to infinity when projected to a max-margin direction (the hard-margin SVM direction) and converge to a fixed vector that minimizes a strongly convex potential when projected to the orthogonal complement of the max-margin direction. In contrast, we also show that in the EoS regime, GD iterates may diverge catastrophically under the exponential loss, highlighting the superiority of the logistic loss. These theoretical findings are in line with numerical simulations and complement existing theories on the convergence and implicit bias of GD for logistic regression, which are only applicable when the stepsizes are sufficiently small.