Theory Seminar

The Complexity of Gradient Descent: CLS = PPAD∩PLS

Alexandros HollenderUniversity of Oxford

We study search problems that can be solved by performing Gradient Descent on a bounded convex polytopal domain and show that this class is equal to the intersection of two well-known classes: PPAD and PLS. As our main underlying technical contribution, we show that computing a Karush-Kuhn-Tucker (KKT) point of a continuously differentiable function over the domain [0,1]2 is PPAD ∩ PLS-complete. This is the first natural problem to be shown complete for this class. Our results also imply that the class CLS (Continuous Local Search) – which was defined by Daskalakis and Papadimitriou as a more “natural” counterpart to PPAD ∩ PLS and contains many interesting problems – is itself equal to PPAD ∩ PLS.


Greg Bodwin


Euiwoong Lee