SVM via Saddle Point Optimization: New Bounds and Distributed Algorithms

Authors Lingxiao Huang, Yifei Jin, Jian Li

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Author Details

Lingxiao Huang
  • École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, CH-1015, Lausanne, Switzerland
Yifei Jin
  • Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
Jian Li
  • Tsinghua University , Beijing 100084, China

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Lingxiao Huang, Yifei Jin, and Jian Li. SVM via Saddle Point Optimization: New Bounds and Distributed Algorithms. In 16th Scandinavian Symposium and Workshops on Algorithm Theory (SWAT 2018). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 101, pp. 25:1-25:13, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2018)


We study two important SVM variants: hard-margin SVM (for linearly separable cases) and nu-SVM (for linearly non-separable cases). We propose new algorithms from the perspective of saddle point optimization. Our algorithms achieve (1-epsilon)-approximations with running time O~(nd+n sqrt{d / epsilon}) for both variants, where n is the number of points and d is the dimensionality. To the best of our knowledge, the current best algorithm for nu-SVM is based on quadratic programming approach which requires Omega(n^2 d) time in worst case [Joachims, 1998; Platt, 1999]. In the paper, we provide the first nearly linear time algorithm for nu-SVM. The current best algorithm for hard margin SVM achieved by Gilbert algorithm [Gärtner and Jaggi, 2009] requires O(nd / epsilon) time. Our algorithm improves the running time by a factor of sqrt{d}/sqrt{epsilon}. Moreover, our algorithms can be implemented in the distributed settings naturally. We prove that our algorithms require O~(k(d +sqrt{d/epsilon})) communication cost, where k is the number of clients, which almost matches the theoretical lower bound. Numerical experiments support our theory and show that our algorithms converge faster on high dimensional, large and dense data sets, as compared to previous methods.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Mathematics of computing → Continuous optimization
  • Computing methodologies → Support vector machines
  • nu-SVM
  • hard-margin SVM
  • saddle point optimization
  • distributed algorithm


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