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Abstract:We study the generalization of two-layer ReLU neural networks in a univariate nonparametric regression problem with noisy labels. This is a problem where kernels (\emph{e.g.} NTK) are provably sub-optimal and benign overfitting does not happen, thus disqualifying existing theory for interpolating (0-loss, global optimal) solutions. We present a new theory of generalization for local minima that gradient descent with a constant learning rate can \emph{stably} converge to. We show that gradient descent with a fixed learning rate $\eta$ can only find local minima that represent smooth functions with a certain weighted \emph{first order total variation} bounded by $1/\eta - 1/2 + \widetilde{O}(\sigma + \sqrt{\mathrm{MSE}})$ where $\sigma$ is the label noise level, $\mathrm{MSE}$ is short for mean squared error against the ground truth, and $\widetilde{O}(\cdot)$ hides a logarithmic factor. Under mild assumptions, we also prove a nearly-optimal MSE bound of $\widetilde{O}(n^{-4/5})$ within the strict interior of the support of the $n$ data points. Our theoretical results are validated by extensive simulation that demonstrates large learning rate training induces sparse linear spline fits. To the best of our knowledge, we are the first to obtain generalization bound via minima stability in the non-interpolation case and the first to show ReLU NNs without regularization can achieve near-optimal rates in nonparametric regression.

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Abstract:Background. A main theoretical puzzle is why over-parameterized Neural Networks (NNs) generalize well when trained to zero loss (i.e., so they interpolate the data). Usually, the NN is trained with Stochastic Gradient Descent (SGD) or one of its variants. However, recent empirical work examined the generalization of a random NN that interpolates the data: the NN was sampled from a seemingly uniform prior over the parameters, conditioned on that the NN perfectly classifying the training set. Interestingly, such a NN sample typically generalized as well as SGD-trained NNs. Contributions. We prove that such a random NN interpolator typically generalizes well if there exists an underlying narrow ``teacher NN" that agrees with the labels. Specifically, we show that such a `flat' prior over the NN parametrization induces a rich prior over the NN functions, due to the redundancy in the NN structure. In particular, this creates a bias towards simpler functions, which require less relevant parameters to represent -- enabling learning with a sample complexity approximately proportional to the complexity of the teacher (roughly, the number of non-redundant parameters), rather than the student's.

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Abstract:The majority of the research on the quantization of Deep Neural Networks (DNNs) is focused on reducing the precision of tensors visible by high-level frameworks (e.g., weights, activations, and gradients). However, current hardware still relies on high-accuracy core operations. Most significant is the operation of accumulating products. This high-precision accumulation operation is gradually becoming the main computational bottleneck. This is because, so far, the usage of low-precision accumulators led to a significant degradation in performance. In this work, we present a simple method to train and fine-tune high-end DNNs, to allow, for the first time, utilization of cheaper, $12$-bits accumulators, with no significant degradation in accuracy. Lastly, we show that as we decrease the accumulation precision further, using fine-grained gradient approximations can improve the DNN accuracy.

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Abstract:In continual learning, catastrophic forgetting is affected by multiple aspects of the tasks. Previous works have analyzed separately how forgetting is affected by either task similarity or overparameterization. In contrast, our paper examines how task similarity and overparameterization jointly affect forgetting in an analyzable model. Specifically, we focus on two-task continual linear regression, where the second task is a random orthogonal transformation of an arbitrary first task (an abstraction of random permutation tasks). We derive an exact analytical expression for the expected forgetting - and uncover a nuanced pattern. In highly overparameterized models, intermediate task similarity causes the most forgetting. However, near the interpolation threshold, forgetting decreases monotonically with the expected task similarity. We validate our findings with linear regression on synthetic data, and with neural networks on established permutation task benchmarks.

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Abstract:Neural network (NN) denoisers are an essential building block in many common tasks, ranging from image reconstruction to image generation. However, the success of these models is not well understood from a theoretical perspective. In this paper, we aim to characterize the functions realized by shallow ReLU NN denoisers -- in the common theoretical setting of interpolation (i.e., zero training loss) with a minimal representation cost (i.e., minimal $\ell^2$ norm weights). First, for univariate data, we derive a closed form for the NN denoiser function, find it is contractive toward the clean data points, and prove it generalizes better than the empirical MMSE estimator at a low noise level. Next, for multivariate data, we find the NN denoiser functions in a closed form under various geometric assumptions on the training data: data contained in a low-dimensional subspace, data contained in a union of one-sided rays, or several types of simplexes. These functions decompose into a sum of simple rank-one piecewise linear interpolations aligned with edges and/or faces connecting training samples. We empirically verify this alignment phenomenon on synthetic data and real images.

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Abstract:We study the type of solutions to which stochastic gradient descent converges when used to train a single hidden-layer multivariate ReLU network with the quadratic loss. Our results are based on a dynamical stability analysis. In the univariate case, it was shown that linearly stable minima correspond to network functions (predictors), whose second derivative has a bounded weighted $L^1$ norm. Notably, the bound gets smaller as the step size increases, implying that training with a large step size leads to `smoother' predictors. Here we generalize this result to the multivariate case, showing that a similar result applies to the Laplacian of the predictor. We demonstrate the tightness of our bound on the MNIST dataset, and show that it accurately captures the behavior of the solutions as a function of the step size. Additionally, we prove a depth separation result on the approximation power of ReLU networks corresponding to stable minima of the loss. Specifically, although shallow ReLU networks are universal approximators, we prove that stable shallow networks are not. Namely, there is a function that cannot be well-approximated by stable single hidden-layer ReLU networks trained with a non-vanishing step size. This is while the same function can be realized as a stable two hidden-layer ReLU network. Finally, we prove that if a function is sufficiently smooth (in a Sobolev sense) then it can be approximated arbitrarily well using shallow ReLU networks that correspond to stable solutions of gradient descent.

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Authors:Niv Giladi, Shahar Gottlieb, Moran Shkolnik, Asaf Karnieli, Ron Banner, Elad Hoffer, Kfir Yehuda Levy, Daniel Soudry

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Abstract:Background: Distributed training is essential for large scale training of deep neural networks (DNNs). The dominant methods for large scale DNN training are synchronous (e.g. All-Reduce), but these require waiting for all workers in each step. Thus, these methods are limited by the delays caused by straggling workers. Results: We study a typical scenario in which workers are straggling due to variability in compute time. We find an analytical relation between compute time properties and scalability limitations, caused by such straggling workers. With these findings, we propose a simple yet effective decentralized method to reduce the variation among workers and thus improve the robustness of synchronous training. This method can be integrated with the widely used All-Reduce. Our findings are validated on large-scale training tasks using 200 Gaudi Accelerators.

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Authors:Itay Evron, Edward Moroshko, Gon Buzaglo, Maroun Khriesh, Badea Marjieh, Nathan Srebro, Daniel Soudry

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Abstract:We analyze continual learning on a sequence of separable linear classification tasks with binary labels. We show theoretically that learning with weak regularization reduces to solving a sequential max-margin problem, corresponding to a special case of the Projection Onto Convex Sets (POCS) framework. We then develop upper bounds on the forgetting and other quantities of interest under various settings with recurring tasks, including cyclic and random orderings of tasks. We discuss several practical implications to popular training practices like regularization scheduling and weighting. We point out several theoretical differences between our continual classification setting and a recently studied continual regression setting.

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Abstract:We study zero-shot generalization in reinforcement learning - optimizing a policy on a set of training tasks such that it will perform well on a similar but unseen test task. To mitigate overfitting, previous work explored different notions of invariance to the task. However, on problems such as the ProcGen Maze, an adequate solution that is invariant to the task visualization does not exist, and therefore invariance-based approaches fail. Our insight is that learning a policy that $\textit{explores}$ the domain effectively is harder to memorize than a policy that maximizes reward for a specific task, and therefore we expect such learned behavior to generalize well; we indeed demonstrate this empirically on several domains that are difficult for invariance-based approaches. Our $\textit{Explore to Generalize}$ algorithm (ExpGen) builds on this insight: We train an additional ensemble of agents that optimize reward. At test time, either the ensemble agrees on an action, and we generalize well, or we take exploratory actions, which are guaranteed to generalize and drive us to a novel part of the state space, where the ensemble may potentially agree again. We show that our approach is the state-of-the-art on several tasks in the ProcGen challenge that have so far eluded effective generalization. For example, we demonstrate a success rate of $82\%$ on the Maze task and $74\%$ on Heist with $200$ training levels.

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Abstract:Recent research shows that when Gradient Descent (GD) is applied to neural networks, the loss almost never decreases monotonically. Instead, the loss oscillates as gradient descent converges to its ''Edge of Stability'' (EoS). Here, we find a quantity that does decrease monotonically throughout GD training: the sharpness attained by the gradient flow solution (GFS)-the solution that would be obtained if, from now until convergence, we train with an infinitesimal step size. Theoretically, we analyze scalar neural networks with the squared loss, perhaps the simplest setting where the EoS phenomena still occur. In this model, we prove that the GFS sharpness decreases monotonically. Using this result, we characterize settings where GD provably converges to the EoS in scalar networks. Empirically, we show that GD monotonically decreases the GFS sharpness in a squared regression model as well as practical neural network architectures.

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