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Abstract:Despite widespread adoption in practice, guarantees for the LASSO and Group LASSO are strikingly lacking in settings beyond statistical problems, and these algorithms are usually considered to be a heuristic in the context of sparse convex optimization on deterministic inputs. We give the first recovery guarantees for the Group LASSO for sparse convex optimization with vector-valued features. We show that if a sufficiently large Group LASSO regularization is applied when minimizing a strictly convex function $l$, then the minimizer is a sparse vector supported on vector-valued features with the largest $\ell_2$ norm of the gradient. Thus, repeating this procedure selects the same set of features as the Orthogonal Matching Pursuit algorithm, which admits recovery guarantees for any function $l$ with restricted strong convexity and smoothness via weak submodularity arguments. This answers open questions of Tibshirani et al. and Yasuda et al. Our result is the first to theoretically explain the empirical success of the Group LASSO for convex functions under general input instances assuming only restricted strong convexity and smoothness. Our result also generalizes provable guarantees for the Sequential Attention algorithm, which is a feature selection algorithm inspired by the attention mechanism proposed by Yasuda et al. As an application of our result, we give new results for the column subset selection problem, which is well-studied when the loss is the Frobenius norm or other entrywise matrix losses. We give the first result for general loss functions for this problem that requires only restricted strong convexity and smoothness.