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Implicit Bias of Projected Subgradient Method Gives Provable Robust Recovery of Subspaces of Unknown Codimension

Paris Giampouras · Benjamin Haeffele · Rene Vidal

[ Abstract ]
Wed 27 Apr 10:30 a.m. —
[ OpenReview

Robust subspace recovery (RSR) is the problem of learning a subspace from sample data points corrupted by outliers. Dual Principal Component Pursuit (DPCP) is a robust subspace recovery method that aims to find a basis for the orthogonal complement of the subspace by minimizing the sum of the distances of the points to the subspaces subject to orthogonality constraints on the basis. Prior work has shown that DPCP can provably recover the correct subspace in the presence of outliers as long as the true dimension of the subspace is known. In this paper, we show that if the orthogonality constraints --adopted in previous DPCP formulations-- are relaxed and random initialization is used instead of spectral one, DPCP can provably recover a subspace of \emph{unknown dimension}. Specifically, we propose a very simple algorithm based on running multiple instances of a projected sub-gradient descent method (PSGM), with each problem instance seeking to find one vector in the null space of the subspace. We theoretically prove that under mild conditions this approach succeeds with high probability. In particular, we show that 1) all of the problem instances will converge to a vector in the nullspace of the subspace and 2) the ensemble of problem instance solutions will be sufficiently diverse to fully span the nullspace of the subspace thus also revealing its true unknown codimension. We provide empirical results that corroborate our theoretical results and showcase the remarkable implicit rank regularization behavior of the PSGM algorithm that allows us to perform RSR without knowing the subspace dimension

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