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Newton-Stein Method: An Optimization Method for GLMs via Stein's Lemma

Murat A. Erdogdu; 17(215):1−52, 2016.


We consider the problem of efficiently computing the maximum likelihood estimator in Generalized Linear Models (GLMs) when the number of observations is much larger than the number of coefficients ($n \gg p \gg 1$). In this regime, optimization algorithms can immensely benefit from approximate second order information. We propose an alternative way of constructing the curvature information by formulating it as an estimation problem and applying a Stein-type lemma, which allows further improvements through sub-sampling and eigenvalue thresholding. Our algorithm enjoys fast convergence rates, resembling that of second order methods, with modest per-iteration cost. We provide its convergence analysis for the general case where the rows of the design matrix are samples from a sub-Gaussian distribution. We show that the convergence has two phases, a quadratic phase followed by a linear phase. Finally, we empirically demonstrate that our algorithm achieves the highest performance compared to various optimization algorithms on several data sets.

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