Deep Learning Theory

Jun 12, 2019



Complexity of Linear Regions in Deep Networks It is well-known that the expressivity of a neural network depends on its architecture, with deeper networks expressing more complex functions. In the case of networks that compute piecewise linear functions, such as those with ReLU activation, the number of distinct linear regions is a natural measure of expressivity. It is possible to construct networks for which the number of linear regions grows exponentially with depth, or with merely a single region; it is not clear where within this range most networks fall in practice, either before or after training. In this paper, we provide a mathematical framework to count the number of linear regions of a piecewise linear network and measure the volume of the boundaries between these regions. In particular, we prove that for networks at initialization, the average number of regions along any one-dimensional subspace grows linearly in the total number of neurons, far below the exponential upper bound. We also find that the average distance to the nearest region boundary at initialization scales like the inverse of the number of neurons. Our theory suggests that, even after training, the number of linear regions is far below exponential, an intuition that matches our empirical observations. We conclude that the practical expressivity of neural networks is likely far below that of the theoretical maximum, and that this gap can be quantified. On Connected Sublevel Sets in Deep Learning This paper shows that every sublevel set of the loss function of a class of deep over-parameterized neural nets with piecewise linear activation functions is connected and unbounded. This implies that the loss has no bad local valleys and all of its global minima are connected within a unique and potentially very large global valley. Adversarial Examples Are a Natural Consequence of Test Error in Noise Over the last few years, the phenomenon of \emph{adversarial examples} --- maliciously constructed inputs that fool trained machine learning models --- has captured the attention of the research community, especially when restricted to small modifications of a correctly handled input. Less surprisingly, image classifiers also lack human-level performance on randomly corrupted images, such as images with additive Gaussian noise. In this paper we provide both empirical and theoretical evidence that these are two manifestations of the same underlying phenomenon, and therefore the adversarial robustness and corruption robustness research programs are closely related. This suggests that improving adversarial robustness should go hand in hand with improving performance in the presence of more general and realistic image corruptions. This yields a computationally tractable evaluation metric for defenses to consider: test error in noisy image distributions. Greedy Layerwise Learning Can Scale To ImageNet Shallow supervised 1-hidden layer neural networks have a number of favorable properties that make them easier to interpret, analyze, and optimize than their deep counterparts, but lack their representational power. Here we use 1-hidden layer learning problems to sequentially build deep networks layer by layer, which can inherit properties from shallow networks. Contrary to previous approaches using shallow networks, we focus on problems where deep learning is reported as critical for success. We thus study CNNs on image classification tasks using the large-scale ImageNet dataset and the CIFAR-10 dataset. Using a simple set of ideas for architecture and training we find that solving sequential 1-hidden-layer auxiliary problems lead to a CNN that exceeds AlexNet performance on ImageNet. Extending this training methodology to construct individual layers by solving 2-and-3-hidden layer auxiliary problems, we obtain an 11-layer network that exceeds several members of the VGG model family on ImageNet, and can train a VGG-11 model to the same accuracy as end-to-end learning. To our knowledge, this is the first competitive alternative to end-to-end training of CNNs that can scale to ImageNet. We illustrate several interesting properties of these models theoretically and conduct a range of experiments to study the properties this training induces on the intermediate layers. On the Impact of the Activation function on Deep Neural Networks Training The weight initialization and the activation function of deep neural networks have a crucial impact on the performance of the training procedure. An inappropriate selection can lead to the loss of information of the input during forward propagation and the exponential vanishing/exploding of gradients during back-propagation. Understanding the theoretical properties of untrained random networks is key to identifying which deep networks may be trained successfully as recently demonstrated by Samuel et al. (2017) who showed that for deep feedforward neural networks only a specific choice of hyperparameters known as the `Edge of Chaos' can lead to good performance. While the work by Samuel et al. (2017) discuss trainability issues, we focus here on training acceleration and overall performance. We give a comprehensive theoretical analysis of the Edge of Chaos and show that we can indeed tune the initialization parameters and the activation function in order to accelerate the training and improve the performance. Estimating Information Flow in Deep Neural Networks We study the estimation of the mutual information I(X;Tℓ) between the input X to a deep neural network (DNN) and the output vector Tℓ of its ℓ-th hidden layer (an “internal representation”). Focusing on feedforward networks with fixed weights and noisy internal representations, we develop a rigorous framework for accurate estimation of I(X;Tℓ). By relating I(X;Tℓ) to information transmission over additive white Gaussian noise channels, we reveal that compression, i.e. reduction in I(X;Tℓ) over the course of training, is driven by progressive geometric clustering of the representations of samples from the same class. Experimental results verify this connection. Finally, we shift focus to purely deterministic DNNs, where I(X;Tℓ) is provably vacuous, and show that nevertheless, these models also cluster inputs belonging to the same class. The binning-based approximation of I(X;T_ℓ) employed in past works to measure compression is identified as a measure of clustering, thus clarifying that these experiments were in fact tracking the same clustering phenomenon. Leveraging the clustering perspective, we provide new evidence that compression and generalization may not be causally related and discuss potential future research ideas. The Anisotropic Noise in Stochastic Gradient Descent: Its Behavior of Escaping from Sharp Minima and Regularization Effects Understanding the behavior of stochastic gradient descent (SGD) in the context of deep neural networks has raised lots of concerns recently. Along this line, we study a general form of gradient based optimization dynamics with unbiased noise, which unifies SGD and standard Langevin dynamics. Through investigating this general optimization dynamics, we analyze the behavior of SGD on escaping from minima and its regularization effects. A novel indicator is derived to characterize the efficiency of escaping from minima through measuring the alignment of noise covariance and the curvature of loss function. Based on this indicator, two conditions are established to show which type of noise structure is superior to isotropic noise in term of escaping efficiency. We further show that the anisotropic noise in SGD satisfies the two conditions, and thus helps to escape from sharp and poor minima effectively, towards more stable and flat minima that typically generalize well. We systematically design various experiments to verify the benefits of the anisotropic noise, compared with full gradient descent plus isotropic diffusion (i.e. Langevin dynamics). The code for reproducibility is provided in the Supplementary Materials. Characterizing Well-Behaved vs. Pathological Deep Neural Networks We introduce a novel approach, requiring only mild assumptions, for the characterization of deep neural networks at initialization. Our approach applies both to fully-connected and convolutional networks and easily incorporates batch normalization and skip-connections. Our key insight is to consider the evolution with depth of statistical moments of signal and noise, thereby characterizing the presence of pathologies in the hypothesis space encoded by the choice of hyperparameters. We establish: (i) for feedforward networks with and without batch normalization, depth multiplicativity inevitably leads to ill-behaved moments and pathologies; (ii) for residual networks with batch normalization, on the other hand, identity skip-connections induce power-law rather than exponential behaviour, leading to well-behaved moments and no pathology. Understanding Geometry of Encoder-Decoder CNNs Encoder-decoder networks using convolutional neural network (CNN) architecture have been extensively used in deep learning literatures thanks to its excellent performance for various inverse problems in computer vision, medical imaging, etc. However, it is still difficult to obtain coherent geometric view why such an architecture gives the desired performance. Inspired by recent theoretical understanding on generalizability, expressivity and optimization landscape of neural networks, as well as the theory of convolutional framelets, here we provide a unified theoretical framework that leads to a better understanding of geometry of encoder-decoder CNNs. Our unified mathematical framework shows that encoder-decoder CNN architecture is closely related to nonlinear basis representation using combinatorial convolution frames, whose expressibility increases exponentially with the network depth. We also demonstrate the importance of skipped connection in terms of expressibility, and optimization landscape. Traditional and Heavy Tailed Self Regularization in Neural Network Models Random Matrix Theory (RMT) is applied to analyze the weight matrices of Deep Neural Networks (DNNs), including both production quality, pre-trained models such as AlexNet and Inception, and smaller models trained from scratch, such as LeNet5 and a miniature-AlexNet. Empirical and theoretical results clearly indicate that the empirical spectral density (ESD) of DNN layer matrices displays signatures of traditionally-regularized statistical models, even in the absence of exogenously specifying traditional forms of regularization, such as Dropout or Weight Norm constraints. Building on recent results in RMT, most notably its extension to Universality classes of Heavy-Tailed matrices, we develop a theory to identify \emph{5+1 Phases of Training}, corresponding to increasing amounts of \emph{Implicit Self-Regularization}. For smaller and/or older DNNs, this Implicit Self-Regularization is like traditional Tikhonov regularization, in that there is a size scale'' separating signal from noise. For state-of-the-art DNNs, however, we identify a novel form of \emph{Heavy-Tailed Self-Regularization}, similar to the self-organization seen in the statistical physics of disordered systems. This implicit Self-Regularization can depend strongly on the many knobs of the training process. By exploiting the generalization gap phenomena, we demonstrate that we can cause a small model to exhibit all 5+1 phases of training simply by changing the batch size.


About ICML 2019

The International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML) is the premier gathering of professionals dedicated to the advancement of the branch of artificial intelligence known as machine learning. ICML is globally renowned for presenting and publishing cutting-edge research on all aspects of machine learning used in closely related areas like artificial intelligence, statistics and data science, as well as important application areas such as machine vision, computational biology, speech recognition, and robotics. ICML is one of the fastest growing artificial intelligence conferences in the world. Participants at ICML span a wide range of backgrounds, from academic and industrial researchers, to entrepreneurs and engineers, to graduate students and postdocs.

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