Online optimization for max-norm regularization

Jie Shen, Huan Xu, Ping Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The max-norm regularizer has been extensively studied in the last decade as it promotes an effective low-rank estimation for the underlying data. However, such max-norm regularized problems are typically formulated and solved in a batch manner, which prevents it from processing big data due to possible memory bottleneck. In this paper, hence, we propose an online algorithm that is scalable to large problems. In particular, we consider the matrix decomposition problem as an example, although a simple variant of the algorithm and analysis can be adapted to other important problems such as matrix completion. The crucial technique in our implementation is to reformulate the max-norm to an equivalent matrix factorization form, where the factors consist of a (possibly overcomplete) basis component and a coefficients one. In this way, we may maintain the basis component in the memory and optimize over it and the coefficients for each sample alternatively. Since the size of the basis component is independent of the sample size, our algorithm is appealing when manipulating a large collection of samples. We prove that the sequence of the solutions (i.e., the basis component) produced by our algorithm converges to a stationary point of the expected loss function asymptotically. Numerical study demonstrates encouraging results for the robustness of our algorithm compared to the widely used nuclear norm solvers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-457
Number of pages39
JournalMachine Learning
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Artificial Intelligence


  • Low-rank matrix
  • Matrix factorization
  • Max-norm
  • Stochastic optimization


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