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Projection-free Distributed Online Learning with Sublinear Communication Complexity

Yuanyu Wan, Guanghui Wang, Wei-Wei Tu, Lijun Zhang; 23(172):1−53, 2022.


To deal with complicated constraints via locally light computations in distributed online learning, a recent study has presented a projection-free algorithm called distributed online conditional gradient (D-OCG), and achieved an $O(T^{3/4})$ regret bound for convex losses, where $T$ is the number of total rounds. However, it requires $T$ communication rounds, and cannot utilize the strong convexity of losses. In this paper, we propose an improved variant of D-OCG, namely D-BOCG, which can attain the same $O(T^{3/4})$ regret bound with only $O(\sqrt{T})$ communication rounds for convex losses, and a better regret bound of $O(T^{2/3}(\log T)^{1/3})$ with fewer $O(T^{1/3}(\log T)^{2/3})$ communication rounds for strongly convex losses. The key idea is to adopt a delayed update mechanism that reduces the communication complexity, and redefine the surrogate loss function in D-OCG for exploiting the strong convexity. Furthermore, we provide lower bounds to demonstrate that the $O(\sqrt{T})$ communication rounds required by D-BOCG are optimal (in terms of $T$) for achieving the $O(T^{3/4})$ regret with convex losses, and the $O(T^{1/3}(\log T)^{2/3})$ communication rounds required by D-BOCG are near-optimal (in terms of $T$) for achieving the $O(T^{2/3}(\log T)^{1/3})$ regret with strongly convex losses up to polylogarithmic factors. Finally, to handle the more challenging bandit setting, in which only the loss value is available, we incorporate the classical one-point gradient estimator into D-BOCG, and obtain similar theoretical guarantees.

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