Multi-Layer Feature Reduction for Tree Structured Group Lasso via Hierarchical Projection

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 28 (NIPS 2015)

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Jie Wang, Jieping Ye


Tree structured group Lasso (TGL) is a powerful technique in uncovering the tree structured sparsity over the features, where each node encodes a group of features. It has been applied successfully in many real-world applications. However, with extremely large feature dimensions, solving TGL remains a significant challenge due to its highly complicated regularizer. In this paper, we propose a novel Multi-Layer Feature reduction method (MLFre) to quickly identify the inactive nodes (the groups of features with zero coefficients in the solution) hierarchically in a top-down fashion, which are guaranteed to be irrelevant to the response. Thus, we can remove the detected nodes from the optimization without sacrificing accuracy. The major challenge in developing such testing rules is due to the overlaps between the parents and their children nodes. By a novel hierarchical projection algorithm, MLFre is able to test the nodes independently from any of their ancestor nodes. Moreover, we can integrate MLFre---that has a low computational cost---with any existing solvers. Experiments on both synthetic and real data sets demonstrate that the speedup gained by MLFre can be orders of magnitude.