A Stochastic Decoupling Method for Minimizing the Sum of Smooth and Non-Smooth Functions


We consider the problem of minimizing the sum of three convex functions: i) a smooth function $f$ in the form of an expectation or a finite average, ii) a non-smooth function $g$ in the form of a finite average of proximable functions $g_j$, and iii) a proximable regularizer $R$. We design a variance reduced method which is able progressively learn the proximal operator of $g$ via the computation of the proximal operator of a single randomly selected function $g_j$ in each iteration only. Our method can provably and efficiently accommodate many strategies for the estimation of the gradient of $f$, including via standard and variance-reduced stochastic estimation, effectively decoupling the smooth part of the problem from the non-smooth part. We prove a number of iteration complexity results, including a general $O(1/t)$ rate, $O(1/t^2)$ rate in the case of strongly convex $f$, and several linear rates in special cases, including accelerated linear rate. For example, our method achieves a linear rate for the problem of minimizing a strongly convex function $f$ under linear constraints under no assumption on the constraints beyond consistency. When combined with SGD or SAGA estimators for the gradient of $f$, this leads to a very efficient method for empirical risk minimization with large linear constraints. Our method generalizes several existing algorithms, including forward-backward splitting, Douglas-Rachford splitting, proximal SGD, proximal SAGA, SDCA, randomized Kaczmarz and Point-SAGA. However, our method leads to many new specific methods in special cases; for instance, we obtain the first randomized variant of the Dykstra’s method for projection onto the intersection of closed convex sets.