Delayed Algorithms for Distributed Stochastic Weakly Convex Optimization

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

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Wenzhi Gao, Qi Deng


This paper studies delayed stochastic algorithms for weakly convex optimization in a distributed network with workers connected to a master node. Recently, Xu~et~al.~2022 showed that an inertial stochastic subgradient method converges at a rate of $\mathcal{O}(\tau_{\text{max}}/\sqrt{K})$ which depends on the maximum information delay $\tau_{\text{max}}$. In this work, we show that the delayed stochastic subgradient method ($\texttt{DSGD}$) obtains a tighter convergence rate which depends on the expected delay $\bar{\tau}$. Furthermore, for an important class of composition weakly convex problems, we develop a new delayed stochastic prox-linear ($\texttt{DSPL}$) method in which the delays only affect the high-order term in the rate and hence, are negligible after a certain number of $\texttt{DSPL}$ iterations. In addition, we demonstrate the robustness of our proposed algorithms against arbitrary delays. By incorporating a simple safeguarding step in both methods, we achieve convergence rates that depend solely on the number of workers, eliminating the effect of delays. Our numerical experiments further confirm the empirical superiority of our proposed methods.