Current status quo in machine learning is to use static datasets of real images for training, which often come from long-tailed distributions. With the recent advances in generative models, researchers have started augmenting these static datasets with synthetic data, reporting moderate performance improvements on classification tasks. We hypothesize that these performance gains are limited by the lack of feedback from the classifier to the generative model, which would promote the usefulness of the generated samples to improve the classifier's performance. In this work, we introduce a framework for augmenting static datasets with useful synthetic samples, which leverages one-shot feedback from the classifier to drive the sampling of the generative model. In order for the framework to be effective, we find that the samples must be close to the support of the real data of the task at hand, and be sufficiently diverse. We validate three feedback criteria on a long-tailed dataset (ImageNet-LT) as well as a group-imbalanced dataset (NICO++). On ImageNet-LT, we achieve state-of-the-art results, with over 4 percent improvement on underrepresented classes while being twice efficient in terms of the number of generated synthetic samples. NICO++ also enjoys marked boosts of over 5 percent in worst group accuracy. With these results, our framework paves the path towards effectively leveraging state-of-the-art text-to-image models as data sources that can be queried to improve downstream applications.
Successful out-of-distribution generalization requires environment annotations. Unfortunately, these are resource-intensive to obtain, and their relevance to model performance is limited by the expectations and perceptual biases of human annotators. Therefore, to enable robust AI systems across applications, we must develop algorithms to automatically discover environments inducing broad generalization. Current proposals, which divide examples based on their training error, suffer from one fundamental problem. These methods add hyper-parameters and early-stopping criteria that are impossible to tune without a validation set with human-annotated environments, the very information subject to discovery. In this paper, we propose Cross-Risk-Minimization (XRM) to address this issue. XRM trains two twin networks, each learning from one random half of the training data, while imitating confident held-out mistakes made by its sibling. XRM provides a recipe for hyper-parameter tuning, does not require early-stopping, and can discover environments for all training and validation data. Domain generalization algorithms built on top of XRM environments achieve oracle worst-group-accuracy, solving a long-standing problem in out-of-distribution generalization.
This paper focuses on predicting the occurrence of grokking in neural networks, a phenomenon in which perfect generalization emerges long after signs of overfitting or memorization are observed. It has been reported that grokking can only be observed with certain hyper-parameters. This makes it critical to identify the parameters that lead to grokking. However, since grokking occurs after a large number of epochs, searching for the hyper-parameters that lead to it is time-consuming. In this paper, we propose a low-cost method to predict grokking without training for a large number of epochs. In essence, by studying the learning curve of the first few epochs, we show that one can predict whether grokking will occur later on. Specifically, if certain oscillations occur in the early epochs, one can expect grokking to occur if the model is trained for a much longer period of time. We propose using the spectral signature of a learning curve derived by applying the Fourier transform to quantify the amplitude of low-frequency components to detect the presence of such oscillations. We also present additional experiments aimed at explaining the cause of these oscillations and characterizing the loss landscape.
A key challenge in building theoretical foundations for deep learning is the complex optimization dynamics of neural networks, resulting from the high-dimensional interactions between the large number of network parameters. Such non-trivial dynamics lead to intriguing behaviors such as the phenomenon of "double descent" of the generalization error. The more commonly studied aspect of this phenomenon corresponds to model-wise double descent where the test error exhibits a second descent with increasing model complexity, beyond the classical U-shaped error curve. In this work, we investigate the origins of the less studied epoch-wise double descent in which the test error undergoes two non-monotonous transitions, or descents as the training time increases. By leveraging tools from statistical physics, we study a linear teacher-student setup exhibiting epoch-wise double descent similar to that in deep neural networks. In this setting, we derive closed-form analytical expressions for the evolution of generalization error over training. We find that double descent can be attributed to distinct features being learned at different scales: as fast-learning features overfit, slower-learning features start to fit, resulting in a second descent in test error. We validate our findings through numerical experiments where our theory accurately predicts empirical findings and remains consistent with observations in deep neural networks.
We study the problem of learning classifiers that perform well across (known or unknown) groups of data. After observing that common worst-group-accuracy datasets suffer from substantial imbalances, we set out to compare state-of-the-art methods to simple balancing of classes and groups by either subsampling or reweighting data. Our results show that these data balancing baselines achieve state-of-the-art-accuracy, while being faster to train and requiring no additional hyper-parameters. In addition, we highlight that access to group information is most critical for model selection purposes, and not so much during training. All in all, our findings beg closer examination of benchmarks and methods for research in worst-group-accuracy optimization.
We identify and formalize a fundamental gradient descent phenomenon resulting in a learning proclivity in over-parameterized neural networks. Gradient Starvation arises when cross-entropy loss is minimized by capturing only a subset of features relevant for the task, despite the presence of other predictive features that fail to be discovered. This work provides a theoretical explanation for the emergence of such feature imbalance in neural networks. Using tools from Dynamical Systems theory, we identify simple properties of learning dynamics during gradient descent that lead to this imbalance, and prove that such a situation can be expected given certain statistical structure in training data. Based on our proposed formalism, we develop guarantees for a novel regularization method aimed at decoupling feature learning dynamics, improving accuracy and robustness in cases hindered by gradient starvation. We illustrate our findings with simple and real-world out-of-distribution (OOD) generalization experiments.
While a lot of progress has been made in recent years, the dynamics of learning in deep nonlinear neural networks remain to this day largely misunderstood. In this work, we study the case of binary classification and prove various properties of learning in such networks under strong assumptions such as linear separability of the data. Extending existing results from the linear case, we confirm empirical observations by proving that the classification error also follows a sigmoidal shape in nonlinear architectures. We show that given proper initialization, learning expounds parallel independent modes and that certain regions of parameter space might lead to failed training. We also demonstrate that input norm and features' frequency in the dataset lead to distinct convergence speeds which might shed some light on the generalization capabilities of deep neural networks. We provide a comparison between the dynamics of learning with cross-entropy and hinge losses, which could prove useful to understand recent progress in the training of generative adversarial networks. Finally, we identify a phenomenon that we baptize gradient starvation where the most frequent features in a dataset prevent the learning of other less frequent but equally informative features.
Games generalize the optimization paradigm by introducing different objective functions for different optimizing agents, known as players. Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) are arguably the most popular game formulation in recent machine learning literature. GANs achieve great results on generating realistic natural images, however they are known for being difficult to train. Training them involves finding a Nash equilibrium, typically performed using gradient descent on the two players' objectives. Game dynamics can induce rotations that slow down convergence to a Nash equilibrium, or prevent it altogether. We provide a theoretical analysis of the game dynamics. Our analysis, supported by experiments, shows that gradient descent with a negative momentum term can improve the convergence properties of some GANs.
We propose zoneout, a novel method for regularizing RNNs. At each timestep, zoneout stochastically forces some hidden units to maintain their previous values. Like dropout, zoneout uses random noise to train a pseudo-ensemble, improving generalization. But by preserving instead of dropping hidden units, gradient information and state information are more readily propagated through time, as in feedforward stochastic depth networks. We perform an empirical investigation of various RNN regularizers, and find that zoneout gives significant performance improvements across tasks. We achieve competitive results with relatively simple models in character- and word-level language modelling on the Penn Treebank and Text8 datasets, and combining with recurrent batch normalization yields state-of-the-art results on permuted sequential MNIST.
* David Krueger and Tegan Maharaj contributed equally to this work
Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) are effective models for reducing spectral variations and modeling spectral correlations in acoustic features for automatic speech recognition (ASR). Hybrid speech recognition systems incorporating CNNs with Hidden Markov Models/Gaussian Mixture Models (HMMs/GMMs) have achieved the state-of-the-art in various benchmarks. Meanwhile, Connectionist Temporal Classification (CTC) with Recurrent Neural Networks (RNNs), which is proposed for labeling unsegmented sequences, makes it feasible to train an end-to-end speech recognition system instead of hybrid settings. However, RNNs are computationally expensive and sometimes difficult to train. In this paper, inspired by the advantages of both CNNs and the CTC approach, we propose an end-to-end speech framework for sequence labeling, by combining hierarchical CNNs with CTC directly without recurrent connections. By evaluating the approach on the TIMIT phoneme recognition task, we show that the proposed model is not only computationally efficient, but also competitive with the existing baseline systems. Moreover, we argue that CNNs have the capability to model temporal correlations with appropriate context information.