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Entropic Wasserstein Gradient Flows

Abstract : This article details a novel numerical scheme to approximate gradient flows for optimal transport (i.e. Wasserstein) metrics. These flows have proved useful to tackle theoretically and numerically non-linear diffusion equations that model for instance porous media or crowd evolutions. These gradient flows define a suitable notion of weak solutions for these evolutions and they can be approximated in a stable way using discrete flows. These discrete flows are implicit Euler time stepping according to the Wasserstein metric. A bottleneck of these approaches is the high computational load induced by the resolution of each step. Indeed, this corresponds to the resolution of a convex optimization problem involving a Wasserstein distance to the previous iterate. Following several recent works on the approximation of Wasserstein distances, we consider a discrete flow induced by an entropic regularization of the transportation coupling. This entropic regularization allows one to trade the initial Wasserstein fidelity term for a Kulback-Leibler divergence, which is easier to deal with numerically. We show how KL proximal schemes, and in particular Dykstra's algorithm, can be used to compute each step of the regularized flow. The resulting algorithm is both fast, parallelizable and versatile, because it only requires multiplications by a Gibbs kernel. On Euclidean domains discretized on an uniform grid, this corresponds to a linear filtering (for instance a Gaussian filtering when $c$ is the squared Euclidean distance) which can be computed in nearly linear time. On more general domains, such as (possibly non-convex) shapes or on manifolds discretized by a triangular mesh, following a recently proposed numerical scheme for optimal transport, this Gibbs kernel multiplication is approximated by a short-time heat diffusion.
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Contributor : Gabriel Peyré <>
Submitted on : Saturday, February 28, 2015 - 5:36:05 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, February 19, 2020 - 8:56:45 AM

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  • HAL Id : hal-01121359, version 1
  • ARXIV : 1502.06216



Gabriel Peyré. Entropic Wasserstein Gradient Flows. SIAM Journal on Imaging Sciences, Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, 2015, 8 (4), pp.2323-2351. ⟨hal-01121359⟩



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