A Gentle Introduction to Gradient-Based Optimization and Variational Inequalities for Machine Learning

by   Neha S. Wadia, et al.

The rapid progress in machine learning in recent years has been based on a highly productive connection to gradient-based optimization. Further progress hinges in part on a shift in focus from pattern recognition to decision-making and multi-agent problems. In these broader settings, new mathematical challenges emerge that involve equilibria and game theory instead of optima. Gradient-based methods remain essential – given the high dimensionality and large scale of machine-learning problems – but simple gradient descent is no longer the point of departure for algorithm design. We provide a gentle introduction to a broader framework for gradient-based algorithms in machine learning, beginning with saddle points and monotone games, and proceeding to general variational inequalities. While we provide convergence proofs for several of the algorithms that we present, our main focus is that of providing motivation and intuition.


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