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Sitan Chen, Sinho Chewi, Holden Lee, Yuanzhi Li, Jianfeng Lu, Adil Salim

We provide the first polynomial-time convergence guarantees for the probability flow ODE implementation (together with a corrector step) of score-based generative modeling. Our analysis is carried out in the wake of recent results obtaining such guarantees for the SDE-based implementation (i.e., denoising diffusion probabilistic modeling or DDPM), but requires the development of novel techniques for studying deterministic dynamics without contractivity. Through the use of a specially chosen corrector step based on the underdamped Langevin diffusion, we obtain better dimension dependence than prior works on DDPM ($O(\sqrt{d})$ vs. $O(d)$, assuming smoothness of the data distribution), highlighting potential advantages of the ODE framework.

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Michael Diao, Krishnakumar Balasubramanian, Sinho Chewi, Adil Salim

Variational inference (VI) seeks to approximate a target distribution $\pi$ by an element of a tractable family of distributions. Of key interest in statistics and machine learning is Gaussian VI, which approximates $\pi$ by minimizing the Kullback-Leibler (KL) divergence to $\pi$ over the space of Gaussians. In this work, we develop the (Stochastic) Forward-Backward Gaussian Variational Inference (FB-GVI) algorithm to solve Gaussian VI. Our approach exploits the composite structure of the KL divergence, which can be written as the sum of a smooth term (the potential) and a non-smooth term (the entropy) over the Bures-Wasserstein (BW) space of Gaussians endowed with the Wasserstein distance. For our proposed algorithm, we obtain state-of-the-art convergence guarantees when $\pi$ is log-smooth and log-concave, as well as the first convergence guarantees to first-order stationary solutions when $\pi$ is only log-smooth.

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Sinho Chewi, Jaume de Dios Pont, Jerry Li, Chen Lu, Shyam Narayanan

Log-concave sampling has witnessed remarkable algorithmic advances in recent years, but the corresponding problem of proving lower bounds for this task has remained elusive, with lower bounds previously known only in dimension one. In this work, we establish the following query lower bounds: (1) sampling from strongly log-concave and log-smooth distributions in dimension $d\ge 2$ requires $\Omega(\log \kappa)$ queries, which is sharp in any constant dimension, and (2) sampling from Gaussians in dimension $d$ (hence also from general log-concave and log-smooth distributions in dimension $d$) requires $\widetilde \Omega(\min(\sqrt\kappa \log d, d))$ queries, which is nearly sharp for the class of Gaussians. Here $\kappa$ denotes the condition number of the target distribution. Our proofs rely upon (1) a multiscale construction inspired by work on the Kakeya conjecture in harmonic analysis, and (2) a novel reduction that demonstrates that block Krylov algorithms are optimal for this problem, as well as connections to lower bound techniques based on Wishart matrices developed in the matrix-vector query literature.

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Jason M. Altschuler, Sinho Chewi

Understanding the complexity of sampling from a strongly log-concave and log-smooth distribution $\pi$ on $\mathbb{R}^d$ to high accuracy is a fundamental problem, both from a practical and theoretical standpoint. In practice, high-accuracy samplers such as the classical Metropolis-adjusted Langevin algorithm (MALA) remain the de facto gold standard; and in theory, via the proximal sampler reduction, it is understood that such samplers are key for sampling even beyond log-concavity (in particular, for distributions satisfying isoperimetric assumptions). In this work, we improve the dimension dependence of this sampling problem to $\tilde{O}(d^{1/2})$, whereas the previous best result for MALA was $\tilde{O}(d)$. This closes the long line of work on the complexity of MALA, and moreover leads to state-of-the-art guarantees for high-accuracy sampling under strong log-concavity and beyond (thanks to the aforementioned reduction). Our starting point is that the complexity of MALA improves to $\tilde{O}(d^{1/2})$, but only under a warm start (an initialization with constant R\'enyi divergence w.r.t. $\pi$). Previous algorithms took much longer to find a warm start than to use it, and closing this gap has remained an important open problem in the field. Our main technical contribution settles this problem by establishing the first $\tilde{O}(d^{1/2})$ R\'enyi mixing rates for the discretized underdamped Langevin diffusion. For this, we develop new differential-privacy-inspired techniques based on R\'enyi divergences with Orlicz--Wasserstein shifts, which allow us to sidestep longstanding challenges for proving fast convergence of hypocoercive differential equations.

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Matthew Zhang, Sinho Chewi, Mufan Bill Li, Krishnakumar Balasubramanian, Murat A. Erdogdu

Underdamped Langevin Monte Carlo (ULMC) is an algorithm used to sample from unnormalized densities by leveraging the momentum of a particle moving in a potential well. We provide a novel analysis of ULMC, motivated by two central questions: (1) Can we obtain improved sampling guarantees beyond strong log-concavity? (2) Can we achieve acceleration for sampling? For (1), prior results for ULMC only hold under a log-Sobolev inequality together with a restrictive Hessian smoothness condition. Here, we relax these assumptions by removing the Hessian smoothness condition and by considering distributions satisfying a Poincar\'e inequality. Our analysis achieves the state of art dimension dependence, and is also flexible enough to handle weakly smooth potentials. As a byproduct, we also obtain the first KL divergence guarantees for ULMC without Hessian smoothness under strong log-concavity, which is based on a new result on the log-Sobolev constant along the underdamped Langevin diffusion. For (2), the recent breakthrough of Cao, Lu, and Wang (2020) established the first accelerated result for sampling in continuous time via PDE methods. Our discretization analysis translates their result into an algorithmic guarantee, which indeed enjoys better condition number dependence than prior works on ULMC, although we leave open the question of full acceleration in discrete time. Both (1) and (2) necessitate R\'enyi discretization bounds, which are more challenging than the typically used Wasserstein coupling arguments. We address this using a flexible discretization analysis based on Girsanov's theorem that easily extends to more general settings.

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Kwangjun Ahn, Sébastien Bubeck, Sinho Chewi, Yin Tat Lee, Felipe Suarez, Yi Zhang

Existing analyses of neural network training often operate under the unrealistic assumption of an extremely small learning rate. This lies in stark contrast to practical wisdom and empirical studies, such as the work of J. Cohen et al. (ICLR 2021), which exhibit startling new phenomena (the "edge of stability" or "unstable convergence") and potential benefits for generalization in the large learning rate regime. Despite a flurry of recent works on this topic, however, the latter effect is still poorly understood. In this paper, we take a step towards understanding genuinely non-convex training dynamics with large learning rates by performing a detailed analysis of gradient descent for simplified models of two-layer neural networks. For these models, we provably establish the edge of stability phenomenon and discover a sharp phase transition for the step size below which the neural network fails to learn "threshold-like" neurons (i.e., neurons with a non-zero first-layer bias). This elucidates one possible mechanism by which the edge of stability can in fact lead to better generalization, as threshold neurons are basic building blocks with useful inductive bias for many tasks.

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Sinho Chewi, Patrik Gerber, Holden Lee, Chen Lu

We prove two lower bounds for the complexity of non-log-concave sampling within the framework of Balasubramanian et al. (2022), who introduced the use of Fisher information (FI) bounds as a notion of approximate first-order stationarity in sampling. Our first lower bound shows that averaged LMC is optimal for the regime of large FI by reducing the problem of finding stationary points in non-convex optimization to sampling. Our second lower bound shows that in the regime of small FI, obtaining a FI of at most $\varepsilon^2$ from the target distribution requires $\text{poly}(1/\varepsilon)$ queries, which is surprising as it rules out the existence of high-accuracy algorithms (e.g., algorithms using Metropolis-Hastings filters) in this context.

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Sitan Chen, Sinho Chewi, Jerry Li, Yuanzhi Li, Adil Salim, Anru R. Zhang

We provide theoretical convergence guarantees for score-based generative models (SGMs) such as denoising diffusion probabilistic models (DDPMs), which constitute the backbone of large-scale real-world generative models such as DALL$\cdot$E 2. Our main result is that, assuming accurate score estimates, such SGMs can efficiently sample from essentially any realistic data distribution. In contrast to prior works, our results (1) hold for an $L^2$-accurate score estimate (rather than $L^\infty$-accurate); (2) do not require restrictive functional inequality conditions that preclude substantial non-log-concavity; (3) scale polynomially in all relevant problem parameters; and (4) match state-of-the-art complexity guarantees for discretization of the Langevin diffusion, provided that the score error is sufficiently small. We view this as strong theoretical justification for the empirical success of SGMs. We also examine SGMs based on the critically damped Langevin diffusion (CLD). Contrary to conventional wisdom, we provide evidence that the use of the CLD does not reduce the complexity of SGMs.

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Marc Lambert, Sinho Chewi, Francis Bach, Silvère Bonnabel, Philippe Rigollet

Along with Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) methods, variational inference (VI) has emerged as a central computational approach to large-scale Bayesian inference. Rather than sampling from the true posterior $\pi$, VI aims at producing a simple but effective approximation $\hat \pi$ to $\pi$ for which summary statistics are easy to compute. However, unlike the well-studied MCMC methodology, VI is still poorly understood and dominated by heuristics. In this work, we propose principled methods for VI, in which $\hat \pi$ is taken to be a Gaussian or a mixture of Gaussians, which rest upon the theory of gradient flows on the Bures-Wasserstein space of Gaussian measures. Akin to MCMC, it comes with strong theoretical guarantees when $\pi$ is log-concave.

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