Finding Second-Order Stationary Points in Nonconvex-Strongly-Concave Minimax Optimization

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 35 (NeurIPS 2022) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Luo Luo, Yujun Li, Cheng Chen


We study the smooth minimax optimization problem $\min_{\bf x}\max_{\bf y} f({\bf x},{\bf y})$, where $f$ is $\ell$-smooth, strongly-concave in ${\bf y}$ but possibly nonconvex in ${\bf x}$. Most of existing works focus on finding the first-order stationary point of the function $f({\bf x},{\bf y})$ or its primal function $P({\bf x})\triangleq \max_{\bf y} f({\bf x},{\bf y})$, but few of them focus on achieving the second-order stationary point, which is essential to nonconvex problems. In this paper, we propose a novel approach for minimax optimization, called Minimax Cubic Newton (MCN), which could find an ${\mathcal O}\left(\varepsilon,\kappa^{1.5}\sqrt{\rho\varepsilon}\right)$-second-order stationary point of $P({\bf x})$ with calling ${\mathcal O}\left(\kappa^{1.5}\sqrt{\rho}\varepsilon^{-1.5}\right)$ times of second-order oracles and $\tilde{\mathcal O}\left(\kappa^{2}\sqrt{\rho}\varepsilon^{-1.5}\right)$ times of first-order oracles, where $\kappa$ is the condition number and $\rho$ is the Lipschitz continuous constant for the Hessian of $f({\bf x},{\bf y})$. In addition, we propose an inexact variant of MCN for high-dimensional problems to avoid calling the expensive second-order oracles. Instead, our method solves the cubic sub-problem inexactly via gradient descent and matrix Chebyshev expansion. This strategy still obtains the desired approximate second-order stationary point with high probability but only requires $\tilde{\mathcal O}\left(\kappa^{1.5}\ell\varepsilon^{-2}\right)$ Hessian-vector oracle calls and $\tilde{\mathcal O}\left(\kappa^{2}\sqrt{\rho}\varepsilon^{-1.5}\right)$ first-order oracle calls. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work that considers the non-asymptotic convergence behavior of finding second-order stationary points for minimax problems without the convex-concave assumptions.