Truncated Matrix Power Iteration for Differentiable DAG Learning


Recovering underlying Directed Acyclic Graph structures (DAG) from observational data is highly challenging due to the combinatorial nature of the DAG-constrained optimization problem. Recently, DAG learning has been cast as a continuous optimization problem by characterizing the DAG constraint as a smooth equality one, generally based on polynomials over adjacency matrices. Existing methods place very small coefficients on high-order polynomial terms for stabilization, since they argue that large coefficients on the higher-order terms are harmful due to numeric exploding. On the contrary, we discover that large coefficients on higher-order terms are beneficial for DAG learning, when the spectral radiuses of the adjacency matrices are small, and that larger coefficients for higher-order terms can approximate the DAG constraints much better than the small counterparts. Based on this, we propose a novel DAG learning method with efficient truncated matrix power iteration to approximate geometric series-based DAG constraints. Empirically, our DAG learning method outperforms the previous state-of-the-arts in various settings, often by a factor of 3 or more in terms of structural Hamming distance.

NeurIPS 2022