Random Conic Pursuit for Semidefinite Programming

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 23 (NIPS 2010)

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Ariel Kleiner, Ali Rahimi, Michael Jordan


We present a novel algorithm, Random Conic Pursuit, that solves semidefinite programs (SDPs) via repeated optimization over randomly selected two-dimensional subcones of the PSD cone. This scheme is simple, easily implemented, applicable to very general SDPs, scalable, and theoretically interesting. Its advantages are realized at the expense of an ability to readily compute highly exact solutions, though useful approximate solutions are easily obtained. This property renders Random Conic Pursuit of particular interest for machine learning applications, in which the relevant SDPs are generally based upon random data and so exact minima are often not a priority. Indeed, we present empirical results to this effect for various SDPs encountered in machine learning; these experiments demonstrate the potential practical usefulness of Random Conic Pursuit. We also provide a preliminary analysis that yields insight into the theoretical properties and convergence of the algorithm.