SDCA4CRF: Adaptive Stochastic Dual Coordinate Ascent for training Conditional Random Fields.




This work investigates the training of conditional random fields (CRFs) via the stochastic dual coordinate ascent (SDCA) algorithm of Shalev-Shwartz and Zhang (2016). SDCA enjoys a linear convergence rate and a strong empirical performance for binary classification problems. However, it has never been used to train CRFs. Yet it benefits from an “exact” line search with a single marginalization oracle call, unlike previous approaches. In this paper, we adapt SDCA to train CRFs, and we enhance it with an adaptive non-uniform sampling strategy based on block duality gaps. We perform experiments on four standard sequence prediction tasks. SDCA demonstrates performances on par with the state of the art, and improves over it on three of the four datasets, which have in common the use of sparse features.


UAI 2018 Article
NIPS workshop OPT2017 (collaboration with Ahmed Touati) Article




      author    = {Le Priol, R\'emi and Pich\'e, Alexandre and Lacoste-Julien, Simon},
      title     = {Adaptive Stochastic Dual Coordinate Ascent for training Conditional Random Fields},
      booktitle = {UAI},
      year      = {2018}

Reproducibility Code


We developped a Python-Numpy implementation of SDCA for training chain-structured conditional random field models with L2-regularization. SDCA fares against optimization a wide class of algorithms developped by Mark Schmidt in the SAG4CRF project.

We reuse the experimental setup from SAG4CRF, with the same datasets and features. We release pre-processed features (courtesy of Mark Schmidt) with the code so as to reproduce training. Original datasets can be found here:

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