I debated whether to put this in SO or Mathematics but the problem I suspect is more a mathematical question rather than a programming one.

I have a simple objective function:

$$f(x) = |x_0| + |x_1| $$

I have defined the respective partial derivative at $x_i=0$ to be zero, as in the following code:

def f(x):
    return abs(x[0]) + abs(x[1])

def jac(x):
    # consider x[0]: if +'ve deriv is +'ve, if -'ve deriv is -'ve, zero otherwise...
    d_0 = -1 * (x[0] < 0) + 1 * (x[0] > 0)
    # consider x[1]: same deal..
    d_1 = -1 * (x[1] < 0) + 1 * (x[1] > 0)
    return np.array([d_0, d_1])

I have implemented the BFGS algorithm to solve this problem:

from scipy.optimize import minimize
soln = minimize(fun=f, x0=np.array([5, 3]), method='bfgs', jac=jac)

The result I obtain is:

status: 2
  success: False
     njev: 38
     nfev: 46
 hess_inv: array([[ 1.22222222,  1.88888889],
       [ 1.88888889,  7.13406795]])
      fun: 1.3333333333333333
        x: array([ 1.22222222, -0.11111111])
  message: 'Desired error not necessarily achieved due to precision loss.'
      jac: array([ 1, -1])

The reason it fails is due to the line search not returning a stepsize $\alpha$ through Wolfe condition search.

But I believe that a stepsize should exist that satisfies the Wolfe conditions.

Please correct me if I am wrong but my understanding is that $\alpha$ satisfies the Wolfe conditions if the following are true:

i) $f(x_k+\alpha_k p_k) \leq f(x_k) + c_1 \alpha_k \nabla f(x_k) \cdot p_k$

ii) $-\nabla f(x_k+\alpha_k p_k) \cdot p_k \leq -c_2 \nabla f(x_k) \cdot p_k$

At the point of failure of the scipy algorithm the following is calculated:

$x_k = [1.222, -0.111]$
$f(x_k) = 1.333$
$p_k = [0.666, 5.245]$
$\nabla f(x_k)=[1,-1]$
$\nabla f(x_k) \cdot p_k = -4.579$

So if I use $\alpha =0.022$ (values close to which the algorithm does examine) I calculate:

$x_{k+1} = [1.237, 0.004]$
$f(x_{k+1}) = 1.241$
$\nabla f(x_{k+1}) = [1,1]$
$\nabla f(x_{k+1}) \cdot p_k = 5.911$

Thus the Wolfe conditions are satisfied:

i) $1.241 \leq 1.333 + 0.0001 * 0.022 * -4.579$

ii) $-5.911 \leq - 0.9000 * -4.579$

So what is my misunderstanding or what is minpack2.dcsrch doing during the Wolfe search that I don't understand.

  • have you read the comments in github.com/scipy/scipy/blob/master/scipy/optimize/minpack2/… ? – LinAlg Nov 8 at 20:49
  • It appears from that link that my condition ii) is replaced by a stronger condition $|\nabla f_{k+1} \cdot p_k | \leq c_2 | \nabla f_k \cdot p_k|$, which fails as can be seen in my calculated numbers. Note that if I change my jac function to allow a tolerance on the conditionals then it converges since the line search has the computational flexibility to find an $alpha$ that yields a zero derivative in at least one of the dimensions. Thanks for the link – Attack68 Nov 8 at 21:46

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