BILGO: Bilateral greedy optimization for large scale semidefinite programming

Zhifeng Hao, Ganzhao Yuan, Bernard Ghanem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Many machine learning tasks (e.g. metric and manifold learning problems) can be formulated as convex semidefinite programs. To enable the application of these tasks on a large-scale, scalability and computational efficiency are considered as desirable properties for a practical semidefinite programming algorithm. In this paper, we theoretically analyze a new bilateral greedy optimization (denoted BILGO) strategy in solving general semidefinite programs on large-scale datasets. As compared to existing methods, BILGO employs a bilateral search strategy during each optimization iteration. In such an iteration, the current semidefinite matrix solution is updated as a bilateral linear combination of the previous solution and a suitable rank-1 matrix, which can be efficiently computed from the leading eigenvector of the descent direction at this iteration. By optimizing for the coefficients of the bilateral combination, BILGO reduces the cost function in every iteration until the KKT conditions are fully satisfied, thus, it tends to converge to a global optimum. In fact, we prove that BILGO converges to the global optimal solution at a rate of O(1/k), where k is the iteration counter. The algorithm thus successfully combines the efficiency of conventional rank-1 update algorithms and the effectiveness of gradient descent. Moreover, BILGO can be easily extended to handle low rank constraints. To validate the effectiveness and efficiency of BILGO, we apply it to two important machine learning tasks, namely Mahalanobis metric learning and maximum variance unfolding. Extensive experimental results clearly demonstrate that BILGO can solve large-scale semidefinite programs efficiently.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-257
Number of pages11
StatePublished - Oct 3 2013

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Computer Science Applications


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