Lei Yuan, Jun Liu, Jieping Ye
The group Lasso is an extension of the Lasso for feature selection on (predefined) non-overlapping groups of features. The non-overlapping group structure limits its applicability in practice. There have been several recent attempts to study a more general formulation, where groups of features are given, potentially with overlaps between the groups. The resulting optimization is, however, much more challenging to solve due to the group overlaps. In this paper, we consider the efficient optimization of the overlapping group Lasso penalized problem. We reveal several key properties of the proximal operator associated with the overlapping group Lasso, and compute the proximal operator by solving the smooth and convex dual problem, which allows the use of the gradient descent type of algorithms for the optimization. We have performed empirical evaluations using both synthetic and the breast cancer gene expression data set, which consists of 8,141 genes organized into (overlapping) gene sets. Experimental results show that the proposed algorithm is more efficient than existing state-of-the-art algorithms.