Optimization with Analytic Gradient Computations

This GAUSS optimization example demonstrates the use of COMT to estimate parameters using the sum of the squared residuals. This example moves beyond basic optimization and uses a user-defined function to compute the analytical first derivatives.

Key example features

  • The user-defined objective function ssq for computing the sum of the squared residuals.

  • The user-defined gradient function grd used for computing the first derivatives.

Code for optimization


library comt;

// Create dependent and independent variables
y = { 109,
      224 };

x = { 1,
      10 };

// Starting parameter values
b_strt =  { 100, 0.75 };

// Objective procedure, to compute sum of squared residuals, with 4 inputs:
//    i.      x       - The parameter vector.
//    ii-iii. y and x - Dependent and independent variable
//                      for nonlinear least squares estimation.
//    ii.     ind     - The indicator vector.

proc (1) = ssq(b, y, x, ind);
    // Declare 'mm' to be a modelResults
    // struct local to this procedure
    struct modelResults mm;

    local f,g;

    // Calculate 'f' once, for use
    // in computation of function value
    // and gradient calculation
    f = b[1] * (1 - exp(-b[2]*x));

    // If first element of 'ind' is non-zero,
    // compute function evaluation
    if ind[1];
        mm.function = (y - f)'(y - f);

    // If second element of 'ind' is non-zero,
    // compute gradient calculation
    if ind[2];
        g = grd(b, y, x);
        mm.gradient = -2 * g'(y - f);

    // Return modelResults struct

// Procedure used in gradient computation
// Note this procedure must take the same inputs as
// the objective function (excluding 'ind')
proc grd(b, y, x);
    local f,g;

    g = zeros(rows(x),rows(b));

    f = exp(-b[2]*x);

    g[.,1] = 1 - f;
    g[.,2] = b[1]*x.*f;


// Declare 'ctl' to be a comtControl struct
// and fill with default settings
struct comtControl ctl;
ctl = comtControlCreate();

// Print numerical and analytical gradient
// on first iteration for comparison and debugging
ctl.gradCheck = 1;

// Declare 'out' to be a comtResults struct
// to hold the results from the optimization
struct comtResults out;

// Minimize objective function
// and print output to the screen
out = comtPrt(comt(&ssq, b_strt, y, x, ctl));

The code prints results to the Command Window.


Gradient comparisons

The first notable component of the results is the printed comparison of the analytical and numerical gradients. This is done because the ctl.gradCheck member of the comtControl structure was set to 1.

analytical gradient        numerical gradient
-932.8196153813061073     -932.8196069540683766
-18609.6357937713837600     -18609.6345830073878460

Convergence details

The first portion of the results provide details about convergence and performance.

Return code    = 0
Function value = 1168.00888
Convergence    : normal convergence

These results indicate that the optimization converged normally, with a return code of 0. Any return Code other than 0 would indicate some issue with the convergence. The exact meaning of the return code can be found in the comt() documentation.

Parameter estimates

The next section of the results reports the parameter estimates and the associated gradients.

Parameters  Estimates    Gradient
x[1,1]       213.8094      0.0000
x[2,1]         0.5472      0.0002

Computation time

The final section of the results reports the number of iterations and computation time.

Number of iterations    2572
Minutes to convergence  0.00793


Though the printed results do not include the standard errors of the parameters or the other key inference statistics, these can be easily computed the grd function and the results stored in the comtResults structure.

// Extract estimated parameters
b_hat = pvGetParVector(out.par);

// Calculate gradient at the estimated parameters
g = grd(b_hat, y, x);

// Compute covariance matrix using
// the final function value and
// the gradient at estimated parameters
cov = (out.fct/rows(y))*invpd(g'*g);

// Find standard errors of estimates
sd = sqrt(diag(cov));
print "Standard errors of parameters:";
print sd';

// Find t-stats of estimates
t_stats = (b_hat./sd)';
print "Parameter t-statistics:";
print t_stats;

This prints the standard errors and t-statistics.

Standard errors of parameters:
   10.087419      0.085372828
Parameter t-statistics:
   21.195650        6.4099726