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Authors:Ke Wang, Nikolaos Dimitriadis, Alessandro Favero, Guillermo Ortiz-Jimenez, Francois Fleuret, Pascal Frossard

Abstract:Large pre-trained models exhibit impressive zero-shot performance across diverse tasks, but fine-tuning often leads to catastrophic forgetting, where improvements on a target domain degrade generalization on other tasks. To address this challenge, we introduce LiNeS, Layer-increasing Network Scaling, a post-training editing technique designed to preserve pre-trained generalization while enhancing fine-tuned task performance. LiNeS scales parameter updates linearly based on their layer depth within the network, maintaining shallow layers close to their pre-trained values to preserve general features while allowing deeper layers to retain task-specific representations. We further extend this approach to multi-task model merging scenarios, where layer-wise scaling of merged parameters reduces negative task interference. LiNeS demonstrates significant improvements in both single-task and multi-task settings across various benchmarks in vision and natural language processing. It mitigates forgetting, enhances out-of-distribution generalization, integrates seamlessly with existing multi-task model merging baselines improving their performance across benchmarks and model sizes, and can boost generalization when merging LLM policies aligned with different rewards via RLHF. Importantly, our method is simple to implement and complementary to many existing techniques.

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Abstract:High-dimensional data must be highly structured to be learnable. Although the compositional and hierarchical nature of data is often put forward to explain learnability, quantitative measurements establishing these properties are scarce. Likewise, accessing the latent variables underlying such a data structure remains a challenge. In this work, we show that forward-backward experiments in diffusion-based models, where data is noised and then denoised to generate new samples, are a promising tool to probe the latent structure of data. We predict in simple hierarchical models that, in this process, changes in data occur by correlated chunks, with a length scale that diverges at a noise level where a phase transition is known to take place. Remarkably, we confirm this prediction in both text and image datasets using state-of-the-art diffusion models. Our results show how latent variable changes manifest in the data and establish how to measure these effects in real data using diffusion models.

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Authors:Alessandro Favero, Luca Zancato, Matthew Trager, Siddharth Choudhary, Pramuditha Perera, Alessandro Achille, Ashwin Swaminathan, Stefano Soatto

Abstract:Generative Vision-Language Models (VLMs) are prone to generate plausible-sounding textual answers that, however, are not always grounded in the input image. We investigate this phenomenon, usually referred to as "hallucination" and show that it stems from an excessive reliance on the language prior. In particular, we show that as more tokens are generated, the reliance on the visual prompt decreases, and this behavior strongly correlates with the emergence of hallucinations. To reduce hallucinations, we introduce Multi-Modal Mutual-Information Decoding (M3ID), a new sampling method for prompt amplification. M3ID amplifies the influence of the reference image over the language prior, hence favoring the generation of tokens with higher mutual information with the visual prompt. M3ID can be applied to any pre-trained autoregressive VLM at inference time without necessitating further training and with minimal computational overhead. If training is an option, we show that M3ID can be paired with Direct Preference Optimization (DPO) to improve the model's reliance on the prompt image without requiring any labels. Our empirical findings show that our algorithms maintain the fluency and linguistic capabilities of pre-trained VLMs while reducing hallucinations by mitigating visually ungrounded answers. Specifically, for the LLaVA 13B model, M3ID and M3ID+DPO reduce the percentage of hallucinated objects in captioning tasks by 25% and 28%, respectively, and improve the accuracy on VQA benchmarks such as POPE by 21% and 24%.

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Abstract:Understanding the structure of real data is paramount in advancing modern deep-learning methodologies. Natural data such as images are believed to be composed of features organised in a hierarchical and combinatorial manner, which neural networks capture during learning. Recent advancements show that diffusion models can generate high-quality images, hinting at their ability to capture this underlying structure. We study this phenomenon in a hierarchical generative model of data. We find that the backward diffusion process acting after a time $t$ is governed by a phase transition at some threshold time, where the probability of reconstructing high-level features, like the class of an image, suddenly drops. Instead, the reconstruction of low-level features, such as specific details of an image, evolves smoothly across the whole diffusion process. This result implies that at times beyond the transition, the class has changed but the generated sample may still be composed of low-level elements of the initial image. We validate these theoretical insights through numerical experiments on class-unconditional ImageNet diffusion models. Our analysis characterises the relationship between time and scale in diffusion models and puts forward generative models as powerful tools to model combinatorial data properties.

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Authors:Leonardo Petrini, Francesco Cagnetta, Umberto M. Tomasini, Alessandro Favero, Matthieu Wyart

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Abstract:Learning generic high-dimensional tasks is notably hard, as it requires a number of training data exponential in the dimension. Yet, deep convolutional neural networks (CNNs) have shown remarkable success in overcoming this challenge. A popular hypothesis is that learnable tasks are highly structured and that CNNs leverage this structure to build a low-dimensional representation of the data. However, little is known about how much training data they require, and how this number depends on the data structure. This paper answers this question for a simple classification task that seeks to capture relevant aspects of real data: the Random Hierarchy Model. In this model, each of the $n_c$ classes corresponds to $m$ synonymic compositions of high-level features, which are in turn composed of sub-features through an iterative process repeated $L$ times. We find that the number of training data $P^*$ required by deep CNNs to learn this task (i) grows asymptotically as $n_c m^L$, which is only polynomial in the input dimensionality; (ii) coincides with the training set size such that the representation of a trained network becomes invariant to exchanges of synonyms; (iii) corresponds to the number of data at which the correlations between low-level features and classes become detectable. Overall, our results indicate how deep CNNs can overcome the curse of dimensionality by building invariant representations, and provide an estimate of the number of data required to learn a task based on its hierarchically compositional structure.

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Abstract:Task arithmetic has recently emerged as a cost-effective and scalable approach to edit pre-trained models directly in weight space: By adding the fine-tuned weights of different tasks, the model's performance can be improved on these tasks, while negating them leads to task forgetting. Yet, our understanding of the effectiveness of task arithmetic and its underlying principles remains limited. We present a comprehensive study of task arithmetic in vision-language models and show that weight disentanglement is the crucial factor that makes it effective. This property arises during pre-training and manifests when distinct directions in weight space govern separate, localized regions in function space associated with the tasks. Notably, we show that fine-tuning models in their tangent space by linearizing them amplifies weight disentanglement. This leads to substantial performance improvements across multiple task arithmetic benchmarks and diverse models. Building on these findings, we provide theoretical and empirical analyses of the neural tangent kernel (NTK) of these models and establish a compelling link between task arithmetic and the spatial localization of the NTK eigenfunctions. Overall, our work uncovers novel insights into the fundamental mechanisms of task arithmetic and offers a more reliable and effective approach to edit pre-trained models through the NTK linearization.

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Abstract:Despite their success, understanding how convolutional neural networks (CNNs) can efficiently learn high-dimensional functions remains a fundamental challenge. A popular belief is that these models harness the compositional and hierarchical structure of natural data such as images. Yet, we lack a quantitative understanding of how such structure affects performances, e.g. the rate of decay of the generalisation error with the number of training samples. In this paper we study deep CNNs in the kernel regime: i) we show that the spectrum of the corresponding kernel and its asymptotics inherit the hierarchical structure of the network; ii) we use generalisation bounds to prove that deep CNNs adapt to the spatial scale of the target function; iii) we illustrate this result by computing the rate of decay of the error in a teacher-student setting, where a deep CNN is trained on the output of another deep CNN with randomly-initialised parameters. We find that if the teacher function depends on certain low-dimensional subsets of the input variables, then the rate is controlled by the effective dimensionality of these subsets. Conversely, if the teacher function depends on the full set of input variables, then the error rate is inversely proportional to the input dimension. Interestingly, this implies that despite their hierarchical structure, the functions generated by deep CNNs are too rich to be efficiently learnable in high dimension.

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Abstract:Convolutional neural networks perform a local and translationally-invariant treatment of the data: quantifying which of these two aspects is central to their success remains a challenge. We study this problem within a teacher-student framework for kernel regression, using `convolutional' kernels inspired by the neural tangent kernel of simple convolutional architectures of given filter size. Using heuristic methods from physics, we find in the ridgeless case that locality is key in determining the learning curve exponent $\beta$ (that relates the test error $\epsilon_t\sim P^{-\beta}$ to the size of the training set $P$), whereas translational invariance is not. In particular, if the filter size of the teacher $t$ is smaller than that of the student $s$, $\beta$ is a function of $s$ only and does not depend on the input dimension. We confirm our predictions on $\beta$ empirically. Theoretically, in some cases (including when teacher and student are equal) it can be shown that this prediction is an upper bound on performance. We conclude by proving, using a natural universality assumption, that performing kernel regression with a ridge that decreases with the size of the training set leads to similar learning curve exponents to those we obtain in the ridgeless case.

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Abstract:Understanding why deep nets can classify data in large dimensions remains a challenge. It has been proposed that they do so by becoming stable to diffeomorphisms, yet existing empirical measurements support that it is often not the case. We revisit this question by defining a maximum-entropy distribution on diffeomorphisms, that allows to study typical diffeomorphisms of a given norm. We confirm that stability toward diffeomorphisms does not strongly correlate to performance on four benchmark data sets of images. By contrast, we find that the stability toward diffeomorphisms relative to that of generic transformations $R_f$ correlates remarkably with the test error $\epsilon_t$. It is of order unity at initialization but decreases by several decades during training for state-of-the-art architectures. For CIFAR10 and 15 known architectures, we find $\epsilon_t\approx 0.2\sqrt{R_f}$, suggesting that obtaining a small $R_f$ is important to achieve good performance. We study how $R_f$ depends on the size of the training set and compare it to a simple model of invariant learning.

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