Gradient Descent Can Take Exponential Time to Escape Saddle Points

  title={Gradient Descent Can Take Exponential Time to Escape Saddle Points},
  author={Simon S. Du and Chi Jin and Jason D. Lee and Michael I. Jordan and Barnab{\'a}s P{\'o}czos and Aarti Singh},
Although gradient descent (GD) almost always escapes saddle points asymptotically [Lee et al., 2016], this paper shows that even with fairly natural random initialization schemes and non-pathological functions, GD can be significantly slowed down by saddle points, taking exponential time to escape. On the other hand, gradient descent with perturbations [Ge et al., 2015, Jin et al., 2017] is not slowed down by saddle points—it can find an approximate local minimizer in polynomial time. This… CONTINUE READING
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