Expected Improvement (EI) is arguably the most popular acquisition function in Bayesian optimization and has found countless successful applications, but its performance is often exceeded by that of more recent methods. Notably, EI and its variants, including for the parallel and multi-objective settings, are challenging to optimize because their acquisition values vanish numerically in many regions. This difficulty generally increases as the number of observations, dimensionality of the search space, or the number of constraints grow, resulting in performance that is inconsistent across the literature and most often sub-optimal. Herein, we propose LogEI, a new family of acquisition functions whose members either have identical or approximately equal optima as their canonical counterparts, but are substantially easier to optimize numerically. We demonstrate that numerical pathologies manifest themselves in "classic" analytic EI, Expected Hypervolume Improvement (EHVI), as well as their constrained, noisy, and parallel variants, and propose corresponding reformulations that remedy these pathologies. Our empirical results show that members of the LogEI family of acquisition functions substantially improve on the optimization performance of their canonical counterparts and surprisingly, are on par with or exceed the performance of recent state-of-the-art acquisition functions, highlighting the understated role of numerical optimization in the literature.
We consider the problem of optimizing expensive black-box functions over high-dimensional combinatorial spaces which arises in many science, engineering, and ML applications. We use Bayesian Optimization (BO) and propose a novel surrogate modeling approach for efficiently handling a large number of binary and categorical parameters. The key idea is to select a number of discrete structures from the input space (the dictionary) and use them to define an ordinal embedding for high-dimensional combinatorial structures. This allows us to use existing Gaussian process models for continuous spaces. We develop a principled approach based on binary wavelets to construct dictionaries for binary spaces, and propose a randomized construction method that generalizes to categorical spaces. We provide theoretical justification to support the effectiveness of the dictionary-based embeddings. Our experiments on diverse real-world benchmarks demonstrate the effectiveness of our proposed surrogate modeling approach over state-of-the-art BO methods.
Optimizing expensive-to-evaluate black-box functions of discrete (and potentially continuous) design parameters is a ubiquitous problem in scientific and engineering applications. Bayesian optimization (BO) is a popular, sample-efficient method that leverages a probabilistic surrogate model and an acquisition function (AF) to select promising designs to evaluate. However, maximizing the AF over mixed or high-cardinality discrete search spaces is challenging standard gradient-based methods cannot be used directly or evaluating the AF at every point in the search space would be computationally prohibitive. To address this issue, we propose using probabilistic reparameterization (PR). Instead of directly optimizing the AF over the search space containing discrete parameters, we instead maximize the expectation of the AF over a probability distribution defined by continuous parameters. We prove that under suitable reparameterizations, the BO policy that maximizes the probabilistic objective is the same as that which maximizes the AF, and therefore, PR enjoys the same regret bounds as the original BO policy using the underlying AF. Moreover, our approach provably converges to a stationary point of the probabilistic objective under gradient ascent using scalable, unbiased estimators of both the probabilistic objective and its gradient. Therefore, as the number of starting points and gradient steps increase, our approach will recover of a maximizer of the AF (an often-neglected requisite for commonly used BO regret bounds). We validate our approach empirically and demonstrate state-of-the-art optimization performance on a wide range of real-world applications. PR is complementary to (and benefits) recent work and naturally generalizes to settings with multiple objectives and black-box constraints.
Bayesian optimization (BO) is a powerful approach to sample-efficient optimization of black-box objective functions. However, the application of BO to areas such as recommendation systems often requires taking the interpretability and simplicity of the configurations into consideration, a setting that has not been previously studied in the BO literature. To make BO applicable in this setting, we present several regularization-based approaches that allow us to discover sparse and more interpretable configurations. We propose a novel differentiable relaxation based on homotopy continuation that makes it possible to target sparsity by working directly with $L_0$ regularization. We identify failure modes for regularized BO and develop a hyperparameter-free method, sparsity exploring Bayesian optimization (SEBO) that seeks to simultaneously maximize a target objective and sparsity. SEBO and methods based on fixed regularization are evaluated on synthetic and real-world problems, and we show that we are able to efficiently optimize for sparsity.
The ability to optimize multiple competing objective functions with high sample efficiency is imperative in many applied problems across science and industry. Multi-objective Bayesian optimization (BO) achieves strong empirical performance on such problems, but even with recent methodological advances, it has been restricted to simple, low-dimensional domains. Most existing BO methods exhibit poor performance on search spaces with more than a few dozen parameters. In this work we propose MORBO, a method for multi-objective Bayesian optimization over high-dimensional search spaces. MORBO performs local Bayesian optimization within multiple trust regions simultaneously, allowing it to explore and identify diverse solutions even when the objective functions are difficult to model globally. We show that MORBO significantly advances the state-of-the-art in sample-efficiency for several high-dimensional synthetic and real-world multi-objective problems, including a vehicle design problem with 222 parameters, demonstrating that MORBO is a practical approach for challenging and important problems that were previously out of reach for BO methods.
When tuning the architecture and hyperparameters of large machine learning models for on-device deployment, it is desirable to understand the optimal trade-offs between on-device latency and model accuracy. In this work, we leverage recent methodological advances in Bayesian optimization over high-dimensional search spaces and multi-objective Bayesian optimization to efficiently explore these trade-offs for a production-scale on-device natural language understanding model at Facebook.
Bayesian optimization (BO) is a popular method for optimizing expensive-to-evaluate black-box functions. BO budgets are typically given in iterations, which implicitly assumes each evaluation has the same cost. In fact, in many BO applications, evaluation costs vary significantly in different regions of the search space. In hyperparameter optimization, the time spent on neural network training increases with layer size; in clinical trials, the monetary cost of drug compounds vary; and in optimal control, control actions have differing complexities. Cost-constrained BO measures convergence with alternative cost metrics such as time, money, or energy, for which the sample efficiency of standard BO methods is ill-suited. For cost-constrained BO, cost efficiency is far more important than sample efficiency. In this paper, we formulate cost-constrained BO as a constrained Markov decision process (CMDP), and develop an efficient rollout approximation to the optimal CMDP policy that takes both the cost and future iterations into account. We validate our method on a collection of hyperparameter optimization problems as well as a sensor set selection application.
This paper presents the results and insights from the black-box optimization (BBO) challenge at NeurIPS 2020 which ran from July-October, 2020. The challenge emphasized the importance of evaluating derivative-free optimizers for tuning the hyperparameters of machine learning models. This was the first black-box optimization challenge with a machine learning emphasis. It was based on tuning (validation set) performance of standard machine learning models on real datasets. This competition has widespread impact as black-box optimization (e.g., Bayesian optimization) is relevant for hyperparameter tuning in almost every machine learning project as well as many applications outside of machine learning. The final leaderboard was determined using the optimization performance on held-out (hidden) objective functions, where the optimizers ran without human intervention. Baselines were set using the default settings of several open-source black-box optimization packages as well as random search.
Bayesian optimization (BO) is a powerful paradigm for efficient optimization of black-box objective functions. High-dimensional BO presents a particular challenge, in part because the curse of dimensionality makes it difficult to define as well as do inference over a suitable class of surrogate models. We argue that Gaussian process surrogate models defined on sparse axis-aligned subspaces offer an attractive compromise between flexibility and parsimony. We demonstrate that our approach, which relies on Hamiltonian Monte Carlo for inference, can rapidly identify sparse subspaces relevant to modeling the unknown objective function, enabling sample-efficient high-dimensional BO. In an extensive suite of experiments comparing to existing methods for high-dimensional BO we demonstrate that our algorithm, Sparse Axis-Aligned Subspace BO (SAASBO), achieves excellent performance on several synthetic and real-world problems without the need to set problem-specific hyperparameters.