You are here

Seminar on Theoretical Machine Learning

Role of Interaction in Competitive Optimization

Competitive optimization is needed for many ML problems such as training GANs, robust reinforcement learning, and adversarial learning. Standard approaches to competitive optimization involve each agent independently optimizing their objective functions using SGD or other gradient-based approaches. However, they suffer from oscillations and instability, since the optimization does not account for interaction among the players. We introduce competitive gradient descent (CGD) that explicitly incorporates interaction by solving for Nash equilibrium of a local game. We extend CGD to competitive mirror descent (CMD) for solving conically constrained competitive problems by using the dual geometry induced by a Bregman divergence.

We demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach for training GANs and solving constrained reinforcement learning (RL) problems. We also derive a competitive policy optimization method to train RL agents in competitive games. Finally, we provide a novel perspective on training GANs by pointing out the "GAN-dilemma" a fundamental flaw of the divergence-minimization perspective on GANs. Instead, we argue that an implicit competitive regularization due to simultaneous training methods, such as CGD, is a crucial mechanism behind GAN performance.


Anima Anandkumar

Speaker Affiliation

California Institute of Technology



Event Series


We welcome broad participation in our seminar series. To receive login details, interested participants will need to fill out a registration form accessible from the link below.  Upcoming seminars in this series can be found here.

Register Here

Date & Time
July 09, 2020 | 3:004:30pm


Remote Access Only - see link below