Complexity Lower Bounds for Nonconvex-Strongly-Concave Min-Max Optimization

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 (NeurIPS 2021)

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Haochuan Li, Yi Tian, Jingzhao Zhang, Ali Jadbabaie


We provide a first-order oracle complexity lower bound for finding stationary points of min-max optimization problems where the objective function is smooth, nonconvex in the minimization variable, and strongly concave in the maximization variable. We establish a lower bound of $\Omega\left(\sqrt{\kappa}\epsilon^{-2}\right)$ for deterministic oracles, where $\epsilon$ defines the level of approximate stationarity and $\kappa$ is the condition number. Our lower bound matches the best existing upper bound in the $\epsilon$ and $\kappa$ dependence up to logarithmic factors. For stochastic oracles, we provide a lower bound of $\Omega\left(\sqrt{\kappa}\epsilon^{-2} + \kappa^{1/3}\epsilon^{-4}\right)$. It suggests that there is a gap between the best existing upper bound $\mathcal{O}(\kappa^3 \epsilon^{-4})$ and our lower bound in the condition number dependence.