I have a smooth function $f(x) = \frac{g(x)}{h(x)}$ that is the ratio of two smooth convex functions $g(x)$ and $h(x)$. It is known that $f(x)$ has a global minimum, achieved at the unique point $x_0$. Also is known that $f(x)$ has countably many local minima, and function $f(x)$ value at no two local minima, is the same.

Question: Is there any optimization algorithm for this scenario, which converges to the global minimum. I am hoping there is some variant of gradient descent or the likes. Appreciate any references/solutions.


1 Answer 1


Despite your claim that these functions have "special properties", the properties you've supplied still leave f and g extremely general. This means the answers you're going to get must be correspondingly general. If, for instance, you know that g is always positive or f is quadratic, or g is some kind of positive semi-definite matrix, and so on, then you should ask a new question specifying this critical information from the start.

What you're trying to do is convex-convex fractional programming. Schaible's 1976 paper "Minimization of ratios" explains how such a problem can be transformed into a quasi-convex problem Schaible 1976

So you can make this into a quasi-convex problem. That means that you can use bisection to solve the problem to $\epsilon$ tolerance in $\lceil log_2((u-l)/\epsilon)\rceil$ steps where $l$ and $u$ bound the range of the $t$ variable shown above.

Depending on the functions involved, you may be able to use cvxpy to solve the problem. Some examples showing bisection of quasiconvex functions are here and here.

  • $\begingroup$ Sorry I forgot to mention : f,g are strictly positive. Hope that helps : in case in this light, if it would deserve another answer, please advice accordingly. Also both$f$ and $g$ are quadratic. $\endgroup$
    – Rajesh D
    Feb 23, 2019 at 3:45
  • $\begingroup$ need your permission to proceed if I can post another question, or if you could help on this post itself. Thanks $\endgroup$
    – Rajesh D
    Feb 23, 2019 at 3:50
  • $\begingroup$ sorry both $g$ and $h$ are quadratic and strictly positive. not $f$ as I had mistakenly put in previous comment. $\endgroup$
    – Rajesh D
    Feb 23, 2019 at 3:56
  • $\begingroup$ @RajeshDachiraju: Does your problem have any constraints? $\endgroup$
    – Richard
    Feb 23, 2019 at 4:50
  • $\begingroup$ None except one parameter in parameter vector is always zero. $\endgroup$
    – Rajesh D
    Feb 23, 2019 at 5:06

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