2007 PIMS-CSC Seminar - 04

  • Date: 11/02/2007
Michael L. Overton (Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences)

Simon Fraser University


Nonsmooth, Nonconvex Optimization


There are many algorithms for minimization when the objective function is differentiable or convex, but few options when it is neither. We describe two simple algorithmic approaches for minimization of nonsmooth, nonconvex objectives:

BFGS (a new look at an old method), and Gradient Sampling (a method that, although computationally intensive, has a nice convergence theory, which we will describe). Both methods require the user to provide a routine that computes the function value and, if it exists, the gradient at a given point, the idea being that the function is virtually never evaluated
at a point where it is not differentiable, even though it is typically not differentiable at local optimizers.

These methods are combined in a new publicly available code, HANSO (Hybrid Algorithm for NonSmooth Optimization). Applications abound in engineering, particularly control. Of particular interest to me are those involving eigenvalues and singular values of nonsymmetric matrices. Sometimes even easily stated problems in a few variables are hard. Another publicly available code HIFOO (H-Infinity Fixed-Order Optimization) is intended for use by practising control engineers and has solved some open theoretical and practical problems in control.


2:30pm, Rm. 8500, TASC II