Dynamics of Deep Neural Networks and Neural Tangent Hierarchy

Jul 12, 2020



The evolution of a deep neural network trained by the gradient descent can be described by its neural tangent kernel (NTK) as introduced in <cit.>, where it was proven that in the infinite width limit the NTK converges to an explicit limiting kernel and it stays constant during training. The NTK was also implicit in some other recent papers <cit.>. In the overparametrization regime, a fully-trained deep neural network is indeed equivalent to the kernel regression predictor using the limiting NTK. And the gradient descent achieves zero training loss for a deep overparameterized neural network. However, it was observed in <cit.> that there is a performance gap between the kernel regression using the limiting NTK and the deep neural networks. This performance gap is likely to originate from the change of the NTK along training due to the finite width effect. The change of the NTK along the training is central to describe the generalization features of deep neural networks. In the current paper, we study the dynamic of the NTK for finite width deep fully-connected neural networks. We derive an infinite hierarchy of ordinary differential equations, the neural tangent hierarchy (NTH) which captures the gradient descent dynamic of the deep neural network. Moreover, under certain conditions on the neural network width and the data set dimension, we prove that the truncated hierarchy of NTH approximates the dynamic of the NTK up to arbitrary precision. This description makes it possible to directly study the change of the NTK for deep neural networks, and sheds light on the observation that deep neural networks outperform kernel regressions using the corresponding limiting NTK.



About ICML 2020

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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