Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 35 (NeurIPS 2022) Main Conference Track
Yu Cheng, Ilias Diakonikolas, Rong Ge, Shivam Gupta, Daniel Kane, Mahdi Soltanolkotabi
We explore the connection between outlier-robust high-dimensional statistics and non-convex optimization in the presence of sparsity constraints, with a focus on the fundamental tasks of robust sparse mean estimation and robust sparse PCA. We develop novel and simple optimization formulations for these problems such that any approximate stationary point of the associated optimization problem yields a near-optimal solution for the underlying robust estimation task. As a corollary, we obtain that any first-order method that efficiently converges to stationarity yields an efficient algorithm for these tasks. The obtained algorithms are simple, practical, and succeed under broader distributional assumptions compared to prior work.