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Optimal Algorithms for Stochastic Bilevel Optimization under Relaxed Smoothness Conditions

Xuxing Chen, Tesi Xiao, Krishnakumar Balasubramanian; 25(151):1−51, 2024.


We consider stochastic bilevel optimization problems involving minimizing an upper-level ($\texttt{UL}$) function that is dependent on the arg-min of a strongly-convex lower-level ($\texttt{LL}$) function. Several algorithms utilize Neumann series to approximate certain matrix inverses involved in estimating the implicit gradient of the $\texttt{UL}$ function (hypergradient). The state-of-the-art StOchastic Bilevel Algorithm ($\texttt{SOBA}$) instead uses stochastic gradient descent steps to solve the linear system associated with the explicit matrix inversion. This modification enables $\texttt{SOBA}$ to obtain a sample complexity of $\mathcal{O}(1/\epsilon^{2})$ for finding an $\epsilon$-stationary point. Unfortunately, the current analysis of $\texttt{SOBA}$ relies on the assumption of higher-order smoothness for the $\texttt{UL}$ and $\texttt{LL}$ functions to achieve optimality. In this paper, we introduce a novel fully single-loop and Hessian-inversion-free algorithmic framework for stochastic bilevel optimization and present a tighter analysis under standard smoothness assumptions (first-order Lipschitzness of the $\texttt{UL}$ function and second-order Lipschitzness of the $\texttt{LL}$ function). Furthermore, we show that a slight modification of our algorithm can handle a more general multi-objective robust bilevel optimization problem. For this case, we obtain the state-of-the-art oracle complexity results demonstrating the generality of both the proposed algorithmic and analytic frameworks. Numerical experiments demonstrate the performance gain of the proposed algorithms over existing ones.

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