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Templates for Convex Cone Problems with Applications to Sparse Signal Recovery

Stephen Becker(srbecker***at***acm.caltech.edu)
Emmanuel Candès(candes***at***stanford.edu)
Michael Grant(mcg***at***cvxr.com)

Abstract: This paper develops a general framework for solving a variety of convex cone problems that frequently arise in signal processing, machine learning, statistics, and other fi elds. The approach works as follows: first, determine a conic formulation of the problem; second, determine its dual; third, apply smoothing; and fourth, solve using an optimal first-order method. A merit of this approach is its fl exibility: for example, all compressed sensing problems can be solved via this approach. These include models with objective functionals such as the total-variation norm, ||Wx||_1 where W is arbitrary, or a combination thereof. In addition, the paper also introduces a number of technical contributions such as a novel continuation scheme, a novel approach for controlling the step size, and some new results showing that the smooth and unsmoothed problems are sometimes formally equivalent. Combined with our framework, these lead to novel, stable and computationally efficient algorithms. For instance, our general implementation is competitive with state-of-the-art methods for solving intensively studied problems such as the LASSO. Further, numerical experiments show that one can solve the Dantzig selector problem, for which no efficient large-scale solvers exist, in a few hundred iterations. Finally, the paper is accompanied with a software release. This software is not a single, monolithic solver; rather, it is a suite of programs and routines designed to serve as building blocks for constructing complete algorithms.

Keywords: Optimal fi rst-order methods, Nesterov's accelerated descent algorithms, proximal algorithms, conic duality, smoothing by conjugation, the Dantzig selector, the LASSO, nuclear norm minimization.

Category 1: Linear, Cone and Semidefinite Programming

Category 2: Convex and Nonsmooth Optimization (Nonsmooth Optimization )

Category 3: Nonlinear Optimization (Constrained Nonlinear Optimization )

Citation: http://arxiv.org/abs/1009.2065, September 2010

Download: [PDF]

Entry Submitted: 09/23/2010
Entry Accepted: 09/23/2010
Entry Last Modified: 09/23/2010

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