Gradient Descent in Machine Learning

Understanding Gradient Descent in Machine Learning

An algorithm prevalent in machine learning, functions by iterating in the direction of steepest decline, as denoted by the inverse of the gradient. It is employed to update parameters in mathematical models such as Linear Regression and Neural Networks. Several factors, including weightings and coefficients of equations, are used in determining these parameters.

Optimizing the Gradient Descent Process

  • Cost Monitoring: Ideal approaches to optimizing gradient descent include collecting and charting cost values for every iteration. The cost should decrease with each cycle. If it does not, you may need to reduce your learning rate.
  • Learning Rate Adjustments: Experimenting with various learning rate values (such as 0.1, 0.001, 0.0001) could prove helpful.
  • Normalization: Ensuring your cost function is not twisted or distorted will speed up the cost minimizing process. Normalize all input variables (X) to the same scale as a remedy. Stochastic Gradient Descent usually requires only 1-10 passes through the training dataset to converge good coefficients.

Exploring Types of Gradient Descent Algorithms

The primary difference in types of gradient descent algorithms is the data quantity we utilize in computing gradients for each learning step. This presents a trade-off between the accuracy of the gradient and the update's time complexity – essentially, the learning step.

  • Stochastic Gradient Descent (SGD): Updates parameters for each instance rather than bulk computation. It introduces more noise into the learning process, aiding generalization error reduction, but at the cost of more time. We cannot leverage vectorization since usage is limited to a single instance, which also increases variation.
  • Mini-batch Gradient Descent: Summarizes a small batch of samples instead of computing all, allowing each mini-batch to learn progressively. You can manipulate the batch size, often a power of 2 (like 128, 256, 512) for better performance.
  • Batch Gradient Descent: Uses all samples in making parameter adjustments on each iteration. One of its advantageous aspects is that using a consistent learning rate negates the risk of learning rate decay. If the loss function is convex, it will converge to the global minimum, or a local minimum if not.


Machine learning involves extensive optimization, with gradient descent serving as a versatile, simplistic optimization tool applicable to numerous machine learning techniques. Batch gradient descent, which computes an update post-calculation of the derivative from the entire training data, and stochastic gradient descent, which performs the derivative calculation from each training data instance followed by an immediate update calculation, are two contrasting types.

Integrate | Scan | Test | Automate

Detect hidden vulnerabilities in ML models, from tabular to LLMs, before moving to production.