Double Trouble in Double Descent: Bias and Variance(s) in the Lazy Regime

Jul 12, 2020

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Deep neural networks can achieve remarkable generalization performances while interpolating the training data. Rather than the U-curve emblematic of the bias-variance trade-off, their test error often follows a “double descent"—a mark of the beneficial role of overparametrization. In this work, we develop a quantitative theory for this phenomenon in the so-called lazy learning regime of neural networks, by considering the problem of learning a high-dimensional function with random features regression. We obtain a precise asymptotic expression for the bias-variance decomposition of the test error, and show that the bias displays a phase transition at the interpolation threshold, beyond it which it remains constant. We disentangle the variances stemming from the sampling of the dataset, from the additive noise corrupting the labels, and from the initialization of the weights. We demonstrate that the latter two contributions are the crux of the double descent: they lead to the overfitting peak at the interpolation threshold and to the decay of the test error upon overparametrization. We quantify how they are suppressed by ensembling the outputs of K independently initialized estimators. For K→∞, the test error is monotonously decreasing and remains constant beyond the interpolation threshold. We further compare the effects of overparametrizing, ensembling and regularizing. Finally, we present numerical experiments on classic deep learning setups to show that our results hold qualitatively in realistic lazy learning scenarios.

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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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