Google Research

Low-Rank Sinkhorn Factorization

ICML 21 (2021) (to appear)

Abstract

Several recent applications of optimal transport (OT) theory to machine learning have relied on regularization, notably entropy and the Sinkhorn algorithm. Because matrix-vector products are pervasive in the Sinkhorn algorithm, several works have proposed to \textit{approximate} kernel matrices appearing in its iterations using low-rank factors. Another route lies instead in imposing low-rank constraints on the feasible set of couplings considered in OT problems, with no approximations on cost nor kernel matrices. This route was first explored by~\citet{forrow2018statistical}, who proposed an algorithm tailored for the squared Euclidean ground cost, using a proxy objective that can be solved through the machinery of regularized 2-Wasserstein barycenters. Building on this, we introduce in this work a generic approach that aims at solving, in full generality, the OT problem under low-rank constraints with arbitrary costs. Our algorithm relies on an explicit factorization of low rank couplings as a product of \textit{sub-coupling} factors linked by a common marginal; similar to an NMF approach, we alternatively updates these factors. We prove the non-asymptotic stationary convergence of this algorithm and illustrate its efficiency on benchmark experiments.

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