Beyond Signal Propagation: Is Feature Diversity Necessary in Neural Network Initialization?

Jul 12, 2020

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Deep neural networks are typically initialized with random weights, with variances chosen to facilitate signal propagation and stable gradients. It is also believed that diversity of features is an important property of these initializations. We construct a deep convolutional network with identical features by initializing almost all the weights to 0. The architecture also enables perfect signal propagation and stable gradients, and achieves high accuracy on standard benchmarks. This indicates that random, diverse initializations are not necessary for training neural networks. An essential element in training this network is a mechanism of symmetry breaking; we study this phenomenon and find that standard GPU operations, which are non-deterministic, can serve as a sufficient source of symmetry breaking to enable training.

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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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