In this paper,we establish the convergence of the proximal alternating direction method of multipliers (ADMM) and block coordinate descent (BCD) method for nonseparable minimization models with quadratic coupling terms. The novel convergence
results presented in this paper answer several open questions that have been the subject of considerable discussion. We firstly extend the 2-block proximal ADMM to linearly constrained convex optimization with a coupled quadratic objective function, an area where theoretical understanding is currently lacking, and prove that the sequence generated by the proximal ADMM converges in point-wise manner to a primal-dual solution pair. Moreover, we apply randomly permuted ADMM (RPADMM) to nonseparable multi-block convex optimization, and prove its expected convergence for a class of nonseparable quadratic programming problems. When the linear constraint vanishes, the 2-block proximal ADMM and RPADMM reduce to the
2-block cyclic proximal BCD method and randomly permuted BCD (RPBCD). Our study provides the first iterate convergence result for 2-block cyclic proximal BCD without assuming the boundedness of the iterates. We also theoretically establish the expected iterate convergence result concerning multi-block RPBCD for convex quadratic optimization. In addition, we demonstrate that RPBCD may have a worse convergence rate than cyclic proximalBCDfor 2-block convex quadratic minimization problems. Although the results on RPADMM and RPBCD are restricted to quadratic minimization models, they provide some interesting insights: (1) random permutation makes ADMM and BCD more robust for multi-block convex minimization problems; (2) cyclic BCD may outperform RPBCD for “nice” problems, and RPBCD should be applied with caution when solving general convex optimization problems especially with a few blocks.
The alternating direction method of multipliers (ADMM) is now widely used in many fields, and its convergence was proved when two blocks of variables are alternatively updated. It is strongly desirable and practically valuable to extend the ADMM directly to the case of a multi-block convex minimization problem where its objective function is the sum of more than two separable convex functions. However, the convergence of this extension has been missing for a long time—neither an affirmative convergence proof nor an example showing its divergence is known in the literature. In this paper we give a negative answer to this long-standing open question: The direct extension of ADMM is not necessarily convergent. We present a sufficient condition to ensure the convergence of the direct extension of ADMM, and give an example to show its divergence.