Parsimonious Online Learning with Kernels via Sparse Projections in Function Space

Alec Koppel, Garrett Warnell, Ethan Stump, Alejandro Ribeiro.

Year: 2019, Volume: 20, Issue: 3, Pages: 1−44


Despite their attractiveness, popular perception is that techniques for nonparametric function approximation do not scale to streaming data due to an intractable growth in the amount of storage they require. To solve this problem in a memory-affordable way, we propose an online technique based on functional stochastic gradient descent in tandem with supervised sparsification based on greedy function subspace projections. The method, called parsimonious online learning with kernels (POLK), provides a controllable tradeoff between its solution accuracy and the amount of memory it requires. We derive conditions under which the generated function sequence converges almost surely to the optimal function, and we establish that the memory requirement remains finite. We evaluate POLK for kernel multi-class logistic regression and kernel hinge-loss classification on three canonical data sets: a synthetic Gaussian mixture model, the MNIST hand-written digits, and the Brodatz texture database. On all three tasks, we observe a favorable trade-off of objective function evaluation, classification performance, and complexity of the nonparametric regressor extracted by the proposed method.