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Milad Sefidgaran, Abdellatif Zaidi, Piotr Krasnowski

A major challenge in designing efficient statistical supervised learning algorithms is finding representations that perform well not only on available training samples but also on unseen data. While the study of representation learning has spurred much interest, most existing such approaches are heuristic; and very little is known about theoretical generalization guarantees. In this paper, we establish a compressibility framework that allows us to derive upper bounds on the generalization error of a representation learning algorithm in terms of the "Minimum Description Length" (MDL) of the labels or the latent variables (representations). Rather than the mutual information between the encoder's input and the representation, which is often believed to reflect the algorithm's generalization capability in the related literature but in fact, falls short of doing so, our new bounds involve the "multi-letter" relative entropy between the distribution of the representations (or labels) of the training and test sets and a fixed prior. In particular, these new bounds reflect the structure of the encoder and are not vacuous for deterministic algorithms. Our compressibility approach, which is information-theoretic in nature, builds upon that of Blum-Langford for PAC-MDL bounds and introduces two essential ingredients: block-coding and lossy-compression. The latter allows our approach to subsume the so-called geometrical compressibility as a special case. To the best knowledge of the authors, the established generalization bounds are the first of their kind for Information Bottleneck (IB) type encoders and representation learning. Finally, we partly exploit the theoretical results by introducing a new data-dependent prior. Numerical simulations illustrate the advantages of well-chosen such priors over classical priors used in IB.

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Milad Sefidgaran, Romain Chor, Abdellatif Zaidi, Yijun Wan

We investigate the generalization error of statistical learning models in a Federated Learning (FL) setting. Specifically, we study the evolution of the generalization error with the number of communication rounds between the clients and the parameter server, i.e., the effect on the generalization error of how often the local models as computed by the clients are aggregated at the parameter server. We establish PAC-Bayes and rate-distortion theoretic bounds on the generalization error that account explicitly for the effect of the number of rounds, say $ R \in \mathbb{N}$, in addition to the number of participating devices $K$ and individual datasets size $n$. The bounds, which apply in their generality for a large class of loss functions and learning algorithms, appear to be the first of their kind for the FL setting. Furthermore, we apply our bounds to FL-type Support Vector Machines (FSVM); and we derive (more) explicit bounds on the generalization error in this case. In particular, we show that the generalization error of FSVM increases with $R$, suggesting that more frequent communication with the parameter server diminishes the generalization power of such learning algorithms. Combined with that the empirical risk generally decreases for larger values of $R$, this indicates that $R$ might be a parameter to optimize in order to minimize the population risk of FL algorithms. Moreover, specialized to the case $R=1$ (sometimes referred to as "one-shot" FL or distributed learning) our bounds suggest that the generalization error of the FL setting decreases faster than that of centralized learning by a factor of $\mathcal{O}(\sqrt{\log(K)/K})$, thereby generalizing recent findings in this direction to arbitrary loss functions and algorithms. The results of this paper are also validated on some experiments.

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Romain Chor, Milad Sefidgaran, Abdellatif Zaidi

We study the generalization error of statistical learning models in a Federated Learning (FL) setting. Specifically, there are $K$ devices or clients, each holding an independent own dataset of size $n$. Individual models, learned locally via Stochastic Gradient Descent, are aggregated (averaged) by a central server into a global model and then sent back to the devices. We consider multiple (say $R \in \mathbb N^*$) rounds of model aggregation and study the effect of $R$ on the generalization error of the final aggregated model. We establish an upper bound on the generalization error that accounts explicitly for the effect of $R$ (in addition to the number of participating devices $K$ and dataset size $n$). It is observed that, for fixed $(n, K)$, the bound increases with $R$, suggesting that the generalization of such learning algorithms is negatively affected by more frequent communication with the parameter server. Combined with the fact that the empirical risk, however, generally decreases for larger values of $R$, this indicates that $R$ might be a parameter to optimize to reduce the population risk of FL algorithms. The results of this paper, which extend straightforwardly to the heterogeneous data setting, are also illustrated through numerical examples.

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Milad Sefidgaran, Abdellatif Zaidi

In this paper, we establish novel data-dependent upper bounds on the generalization error through the lens of a "variable-size compressibility" framework that we introduce newly here. In this framework, the generalization error of an algorithm is linked to a variable-size 'compression rate' of its input data. This is shown to yield bounds that depend on the empirical measure of the given input data at hand, rather than its unknown distribution. Our new generalization bounds that we establish are tail bounds, tail bounds on the expectation, and in-expectations bounds. Moreover, it is shown that our framework also allows to derive general bounds on any function of the input data and output hypothesis random variables. In particular, these general bounds are shown to subsume and possibly improve over several existing PAC-Bayes and data-dependent intrinsic dimension-based bounds that are recovered as special cases, thus unveiling a unifying character of our approach. For instance, a new data-dependent intrinsic dimension based bounds is established, which connects the generalization error to the optimization trajectories and reveals various interesting connections with rate-distortion dimension of process, R\'enyi information dimension of process, and metric mean dimension.

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Milad Sefidgaran, Romain Chor, Abdellatif Zaidi

In this paper, we use tools from rate-distortion theory to establish new upper bounds on the generalization error of statistical distributed learning algorithms. Specifically, there are $K$ clients whose individually chosen models are aggregated by a central server. The bounds depend on the compressibility of each client's algorithm while keeping other clients' algorithms un-compressed, and leverage the fact that small changes in each local model change the aggregated model by a factor of only $1/K$. Adopting a recently proposed approach by Sefidgaran et al., and extending it suitably to the distributed setting, this enables smaller rate-distortion terms which are shown to translate into tighter generalization bounds. The bounds are then applied to the distributed support vector machines (SVM), suggesting that the generalization error of the distributed setting decays faster than that of the centralized one with a factor of $\mathcal{O}(\log(K)/\sqrt{K})$. This finding is validated also experimentally. A similar conclusion is obtained for a multiple-round federated learning setup where each client uses stochastic gradient Langevin dynamics (SGLD).

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Milad Sefidgaran, Amin Gohari, Gaël Richard, Umut Şimşekli

Understanding generalization in modern machine learning settings has been one of the major challenges in statistical learning theory. In this context, recent years have witnessed the development of various generalization bounds suggesting different complexity notions such as the mutual information between the data sample and the algorithm output, compressibility of the hypothesis space, and the fractal dimension of the hypothesis space. While these bounds have illuminated the problem at hand from different angles, their suggested complexity notions might appear seemingly unrelated, thereby restricting their high-level impact. In this study, we prove novel generalization bounds through the lens of rate-distortion theory, and explicitly relate the concepts of mutual information, compressibility, and fractal dimensions in a single mathematical framework. Our approach consists of (i) defining a generalized notion of compressibility by using source coding concepts, and (ii) showing that the `compression error rate' can be linked to the generalization error both in expectation and with high probability. We show that in the `lossless compression' setting, we recover and improve existing mutual information-based bounds, whereas a `lossy compression' scheme allows us to link generalization to the rate-distortion dimension -- a particular notion of fractal dimension. Our results bring a more unified perspective on generalization and open up several future research directions.

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Melih Barsbey, Milad Sefidgaran, Murat A. Erdogdu, Gaël Richard, Umut Şimşekli

Neural network compression techniques have become increasingly popular as they can drastically reduce the storage and computation requirements for very large networks. Recent empirical studies have illustrated that even simple pruning strategies can be surprisingly effective, and several theoretical studies have shown that compressible networks (in specific senses) should achieve a low generalization error. Yet, a theoretical characterization of the underlying cause that makes the networks amenable to such simple compression schemes is still missing. In this study, we address this fundamental question and reveal that the dynamics of the training algorithm has a key role in obtaining such compressible networks. Focusing our attention on stochastic gradient descent (SGD), our main contribution is to link compressibility to two recently established properties of SGD: (i) as the network size goes to infinity, the system can converge to a mean-field limit, where the network weights behave independently, (ii) for a large step-size/batch-size ratio, the SGD iterates can converge to a heavy-tailed stationary distribution. In the case where these two phenomena occur simultaneously, we prove that the networks are guaranteed to be '$\ell_p$-compressible', and the compression errors of different pruning techniques (magnitude, singular value, or node pruning) become arbitrarily small as the network size increases. We further prove generalization bounds adapted to our theoretical framework, which indeed confirm that the generalization error will be lower for more compressible networks. Our theory and numerical study on various neural networks show that large step-size/batch-size ratios introduce heavy-tails, which, in combination with overparametrization, result in compressibility.

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