Section: New Results
Convex Optimization for Parallel Energy Minimization
Participants : K. S. Sesh Kumar [correspondent] , Francis Bach.
Collaboration with Alvaro Barbero, Stefanie Jegelka and Suvrit Sra.
Energy minimization has been an intensely studied core problem in computer vision. With growing image sizes (2D and 3D), it is now highly desirable to run energy minimization algorithms in parallel. But many existing algorithms, in particular, some efficient combinatorial algorithms, are difficult to parallelize. By exploiting results from convex and submodular theory, we reformulate in  the quadratic energy minimization problem as a total variation denoising problem, which, when viewed geometrically, enables the use of projection and reflection based convex methods. The resulting min-cut algorithm (and code) is conceptually very simple, and solves a sequence of TV denoising problems. We perform an extensive empirical evaluation comparing state-of-the-art combinatorial algorithms and convex optimization techniques. On small problems the iterative convex methods match the combinatorial max-flow algorithms, while on larger problems they offer other flexibility and important gains: (a) their memory footprint is small; (b) their straightforward parallelizability fits multi-core platforms; (c) they can easily be warm-started; and (d) they quickly reach approximately good solutions, thereby enabling faster “inexact” solutions. A key consequence of our approach based on submodularity and convexity is that it is allows to combine any arbitrary combinatorial or convex methods as subroutines, which allows one to obtain hybrid combinatorial and convex optimization algorithms that benefit from the strengths of both.