Subsections:

The factors that affect how you choose a particular optimization technique for a particular problem are complex. Occasionally, you might benefit from trying several algorithms.

For many optimization problems, computing the gradient takes more computer time than computing the function value. Computing
the Hessian sometimes takes *much* more computer time and memory than computing the gradient, especially when there are many decision variables. Unfortunately,
optimization techniques that do not use some kind of Hessian approximation usually require many more iterations than techniques
that do use a Hessian matrix; as a result, the total run time of these techniques is often longer. Techniques that do not
use the Hessian also tend to be less reliable. For example, they can terminate more easily at stationary points than at global
optima.

Table 11.3 shows which derivatives are required for each optimization technique.

Table 11.3: Derivatives Required

Algorithm |
First-Order |
Second-Order |
---|---|---|

TRUREG |
x |
x |

NEWRAP |
x |
x |

NRRIDG |
x |
x |

QUANEW |
x |
- |

DBLDOG |
x |
- |

CONGRA |
x |
- |

LEVMAR |
x |
- |

NMSIMP |
- |
- |

The second-derivative methods (TRUREG, NEWRAP, and NRRIDG) are best for small problems for which the Hessian matrix is not expensive to compute. Sometimes the NRRIDG algorithm can be faster than the TRUREG algorithm, but TRUREG can be more stable. The NRRIDG algorithm requires only one matrix with double words; TRUREG and NEWRAP require two such matrices. Here, p denotes the number of parameters in the optimization.

The first-derivative methods QUANEW and DBLDOG are best for medium-sized problems for which the objective function and the gradient are much faster to evaluate than the Hessian. In general, the QUANEW and DBLDOG algorithms require more iterations than TRUREG, NRRIDG, and NEWRAP, but each iteration can be much faster. The QUANEW and DBLDOG algorithms require only the gradient to update an approximate Hessian, and they require slightly less memory than TRUREG or NEWRAP.

The first-derivative method CONGRA is best for large problems for which the objective function and the gradient can be computed much faster than the Hessian and for which too much memory is required to store the (approximate) Hessian. In general, the CONGRA algorithm requires more iterations than QUANEW or DBLDOG, but each iteration can be much faster. Because CONGRA requires only a factor of p double-word memory, many large applications can be solved only by CONGRA.

The no-derivative method NMSIMP is best for small problems for which derivatives are not continuous or are very difficult to compute.

The LEVMAR method is appropriate only for least squares optimization problems.

Each optimization method uses one or more convergence criteria that determine when it has converged. An algorithm is considered to have converged when any one of the convergence criteria is satisfied. For example, under the default settings, the QUANEW algorithm converges if ABSGCONV 1E5, FCONV , or GCONV 1E8.

By default, the HPNLMOD procedure applies the NRRIDG algorithm because it can take advantage of multithreading in Hessian computations and inversions. If the number of parameters becomes large, specifying TECHNIQUE= QUANEW (which is a first-order method with good overall properties) is recommended.

The following subsections provide details about each optimization technique and follow the same order as Table 11.3.

The trust region method uses the gradient and the Hessian matrix ; thus, it requires that the objective function have continuous first- and second-order derivatives inside the feasible region.

The trust region method iteratively optimizes a quadratic approximation to the nonlinear objective function within a hyperelliptic trust region that has radius . The radius constrains the step size that corresponds to the quality of the quadratic approximation. The trust region method is implemented based on Dennis, Gay, and Welsch (1981); Gay (1983); Moré and Sorensen (1983).

The trust region method performs well for small- to medium-sized problems, and it does not need many function, gradient, and Hessian calls. However, if the computation of the Hessian matrix is computationally expensive, one of the quasi-Newton or conjugate gradient algorithms might be more efficient.

The NEWRAP technique uses the gradient and the Hessian matrix ; thus, it requires that the objective function have continuous first- and second-order derivatives inside the feasible region.

If second-order derivatives are computed efficiently and precisely, the NEWRAP method can perform well for medium-sized to large problems, and it does not need many function, gradient, and Hessian calls.

This algorithm uses a pure Newton step when the Hessian is positive-definite and when the Newton step reduces the value of the objective function successfully. Otherwise, a combination of ridging and line search is performed to compute successful steps. If the Hessian is not positive-definite, a multiple of the identity matrix is added to the Hessian matrix to make it positive-definite (Eskow and Schnabel 1991).

In each iteration, a line search is performed along the search direction to find an approximate optimum of the objective function. The default line-search method uses quadratic interpolation and cubic extrapolation (LIS=2).

The NRRIDG technique uses the gradient and the Hessian matrix ; thus, it requires that the objective function have continuous first- and second-order derivatives inside the feasible region.

This algorithm uses a pure Newton step when the Hessian is positive-definite and when the Newton step reduces the value of the objective function successfully. If at least one of these two conditions is not satisfied, a multiple of the identity matrix is added to the Hessian matrix.

The NRRIDG method performs well for small- to medium-sized problems, and it does not require many function, gradient, and Hessian calls. However, if the computation of the Hessian matrix is computationally expensive, one of the quasi-Newton or conjugate gradient algorithms might be more efficient.

Because the NRRIDG technique uses an orthogonal decomposition of the approximate Hessian, each iteration of NRRIDG can be slower than an iteration of the NEWRAP technique, which works with a Cholesky decomposition. However, NRRIDG usually requires fewer iterations than NEWRAP.

The (dual) quasi-Newton method uses the gradient , and it does not need to compute second-order derivatives because they are approximated. It works well for medium-sized to moderately large optimization problems, where the objective function and the gradient can be computed much faster than the Hessian. However, in general it requires more iterations than the TRUREG, NEWRAP, and NRRIDG techniques, which compute second-order derivatives. QUANEW is the default optimization algorithm because it provides an appropriate balance between the speed and stability that are required for most nonlinear mixed model applications.

The QUANEW technique that is implemented by the HPNLMOD procedure is the dual quasi-Newton algorithm, which updates the Cholesky factor of an approximate Hessian.

In each iteration, a line search is performed along the search direction to find an approximate optimum. The line-search method uses quadratic interpolation and cubic extrapolation to obtain a step size that satisfies the Goldstein conditions (Fletcher 1987). One of the Goldstein conditions can be violated if the feasible region defines an upper limit of the step size. Violating the left-side Goldstein condition can affect the positive-definiteness of the quasi-Newton update. In that case, either the update is skipped or the iterations are restarted by using an identity matrix, resulting in the steepest descent or ascent search direction.

The QUANEW algorithm uses its own line-search technique.

The double-dogleg optimization method combines the ideas of the quasi-Newton and trust region methods. In each iteration, the double-dogleg algorithm computes the step as the linear combination of the steepest descent or ascent search direction and a quasi-Newton search direction :

The step is requested to remain within a prespecified trust region radius (Fletcher 1987, p. 107). Thus, the DBLDOG subroutine uses the dual quasi-Newton update but does not perform a line search.

The double-dogleg optimization technique works well for medium-sized to moderately large optimization problems, where the objective function and the gradient are much faster to compute than the Hessian. The implementation is based on Dennis and Mei (1979); Gay (1983), but it is extended for dealing with boundary and linear constraints. The DBLDOG technique generally requires more iterations than the TRUREG, NEWRAP, and NRRIDG techniques, which require second-order derivatives; however, each of the DBLDOG iterations is computationally cheap. Furthermore, the DBLDOG technique requires only gradient calls for the update of the Cholesky factor of an approximate Hessian.

Second-order derivatives are not required by the CONGRA algorithm and are not even approximated. The CONGRA algorithm can be expensive in function and gradient calls, but it requires only memory for unconstrained optimization. In general, the algorithm must perform many iterations to obtain a precise solution, but each of the CONGRA iterations is computationally cheap.

The CONGRA algorithm should be used for optimization problems that have large p. For the unconstrained or boundary-constrained case, the CONGRA algorithm requires only bytes of working memory, whereas all other optimization methods require order bytes of working memory. During p successive iterations, uninterrupted by restarts or changes in the working set, the CONGRA algorithm computes a cycle of p conjugate search directions. In each iteration, a line search is performed along the search direction to find an approximate optimum of the objective function. The default line-search method uses quadratic interpolation and cubic extrapolation to obtain a step size that satisfies the Goldstein conditions. One of the Goldstein conditions can be violated if the feasible region defines an upper limit for the step size. Other line-search algorithms can be specified with the LIS= option.

The LEVMAR algorithm performs a highly stable optimization; however, for large problems, it consumes more memory and takes longer than the other techniques. The Levenberg-Marquardt optimization technique is a slightly improved variant of the Moré (1978) implementation.

The Nelder-Mead simplex method does not use any derivatives and does not assume that the objective function has continuous derivatives. The objective function itself needs to be continuous. This technique is quite expensive in the number of function calls, and it might be unable to generate precise results for .

The original Nelder-Mead simplex algorithm is implemented and extended to boundary constraints. This algorithm does not compute the objective for infeasible points, but it changes the shape of the simplex by adapting to the nonlinearities of the objective function. This adaptation contributes to an increased speed of convergence. NMSIMP uses a special termination criterion.