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Abstract:We study the computational and sample complexity of learning a target function $f_*:\mathbb{R}^d\to\mathbb{R}$ with additive structure, that is, $f_*(x) = \frac{1}{\sqrt{M}}\sum_{m=1}^M f_m(\langle x, v_m\rangle)$, where $f_1,f_2,...,f_M:\mathbb{R}\to\mathbb{R}$ are nonlinear link functions of single-index models (ridge functions) with diverse and near-orthogonal index features $\{v_m\}_{m=1}^M$, and the number of additive tasks $M$ grows with the dimensionality $M\asymp d^\gamma$ for $\gamma\ge 0$. This problem setting is motivated by the classical additive model literature, the recent representation learning theory of two-layer neural network, and large-scale pretraining where the model simultaneously acquires a large number of "skills" that are often localized in distinct parts of the trained network. We prove that a large subset of polynomial $f_*$ can be efficiently learned by gradient descent training of a two-layer neural network, with a polynomial statistical and computational complexity that depends on the number of tasks $M$ and the information exponent of $f_m$, despite the unknown link function and $M$ growing with the dimensionality. We complement this learnability guarantee with computational hardness result by establishing statistical query (SQ) lower bounds for both the correlational SQ and full SQ algorithms.

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Abstract:Neural Network-based active learning (NAL) is a cost-effective data selection technique that utilizes neural networks to select and train on a small subset of samples. While existing work successfully develops various effective or theory-justified NAL algorithms, the understanding of the two commonly used query criteria of NAL: uncertainty-based and diversity-based, remains in its infancy. In this work, we try to move one step forward by offering a unified explanation for the success of both query criteria-based NAL from a feature learning view. Specifically, we consider a feature-noise data model comprising easy-to-learn or hard-to-learn features disrupted by noise, and conduct analysis over 2-layer NN-based NALs in the pool-based scenario. We provably show that both uncertainty-based and diversity-based NAL are inherently amenable to one and the same principle, i.e., striving to prioritize samples that contain yet-to-be-learned features. We further prove that this shared principle is the key to their success-achieve small test error within a small labeled set. Contrastingly, the strategy-free passive learning exhibits a large test error due to the inadequate learning of yet-to-be-learned features, necessitating resort to a significantly larger label complexity for a sufficient test error reduction. Experimental results validate our findings.

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Abstract:This paper studies kernel ridge regression in high dimensions under covariate shifts and analyzes the role of importance re-weighting. We first derive the asymptotic expansion of high dimensional kernels under covariate shifts. By a bias-variance decomposition, we theoretically demonstrate that the re-weighting strategy allows for decreasing the variance. For bias, we analyze the regularization of the arbitrary or well-chosen scale, showing that the bias can behave very differently under different regularization scales. In our analysis, the bias and variance can be characterized by the spectral decay of a data-dependent regularized kernel: the original kernel matrix associated with an additional re-weighting matrix, and thus the re-weighting strategy can be regarded as a data-dependent regularization for better understanding. Besides, our analysis provides asymptotic expansion of kernel functions/vectors under covariate shift, which has its own interest.

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Abstract:We study the problem of gradient descent learning of a single-index target function $f_*(\boldsymbol{x}) = \textstyle\sigma_*\left(\langle\boldsymbol{x},\boldsymbol{\theta}\rangle\right)$ under isotropic Gaussian data in $\mathbb{R}^d$, where the link function $\sigma_*:\mathbb{R}\to\mathbb{R}$ is an unknown degree $q$ polynomial with information exponent $p$ (defined as the lowest degree in the Hermite expansion). Prior works showed that gradient-based training of neural networks can learn this target with $n\gtrsim d^{\Theta(p)}$ samples, and such statistical complexity is predicted to be necessary by the correlational statistical query lower bound. Surprisingly, we prove that a two-layer neural network optimized by an SGD-based algorithm learns $f_*$ of arbitrary polynomial link function with a sample and runtime complexity of $n \asymp T \asymp C(q) \cdot d\mathrm{polylog} d$, where constant $C(q)$ only depends on the degree of $\sigma_*$, regardless of information exponent; this dimension dependence matches the information theoretic limit up to polylogarithmic factors. Core to our analysis is the reuse of minibatch in the gradient computation, which gives rise to higher-order information beyond correlational queries.

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Abstract:Flow matching (FM) has gained significant attention as a simulation-free generative model. Unlike diffusion models, which are based on stochastic differential equations, FM employs a simpler approach by solving an ordinary differential equation with an initial condition from a normal distribution, thus streamlining the sample generation process. This paper discusses the convergence properties of FM in terms of the $p$-Wasserstein distance, a measure of distributional discrepancy. We establish that FM can achieve the minmax optimal convergence rate for $1 \leq p \leq 2$, presenting the first theoretical evidence that FM can reach convergence rates comparable to those of diffusion models. Our analysis extends existing frameworks by examining a broader class of mean and variance functions for the vector fields and identifies specific conditions necessary to attain these optimal rates.

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Abstract:Deep neural networks based on state space models (SSMs) are attracting much attention in sequence modeling since their computational cost is significantly smaller than that of Transformers. While the capabilities of SSMs have been primarily investigated through experimental comparisons, theoretical understanding of SSMs is still limited. In particular, there is a lack of statistical and quantitative evaluation of whether SSM can replace Transformers. In this paper, we theoretically explore in which tasks SSMs can be alternatives of Transformers from the perspective of estimating sequence-to-sequence functions. We consider the setting where the target function has direction-dependent smoothness and prove that SSMs can estimate such functions with the same convergence rate as Transformers. Additionally, we prove that SSMs can estimate the target function, even if the smoothness changes depending on the input sequence, as well as Transformers. Our results show the possibility that SSMs can replace Transformers when estimating the functions in certain classes that appear in practice.

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Authors:Rom N. Parnichkun, Stefano Massaroli, Alessandro Moro, Jimmy T. H. Smith, Ramin Hasani, Mathias Lechner, Qi An, Christopher Ré, Hajime Asama, Stefano Ermon(+3 more)

Abstract:We approach designing a state-space model for deep learning applications through its dual representation, the transfer function, and uncover a highly efficient sequence parallel inference algorithm that is state-free: unlike other proposed algorithms, state-free inference does not incur any significant memory or computational cost with an increase in state size. We achieve this using properties of the proposed frequency domain transfer function parametrization, which enables direct computation of its corresponding convolutional kernel's spectrum via a single Fast Fourier Transform. Our experimental results across multiple sequence lengths and state sizes illustrates, on average, a 35% training speed improvement over S4 layers -- parametrized in time-domain -- on the Long Range Arena benchmark, while delivering state-of-the-art downstream performances over other attention-free approaches. Moreover, we report improved perplexity in language modeling over a long convolutional Hyena baseline, by simply introducing our transfer function parametrization. Our code is available at https://github.com/ruke1ire/RTF.

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Abstract:In this paper, we study the feature learning ability of two-layer neural networks in the mean-field regime through the lens of kernel methods. To focus on the dynamics of the kernel induced by the first layer, we utilize a two-timescale limit, where the second layer moves much faster than the first layer. In this limit, the learning problem is reduced to the minimization problem over the intrinsic kernel. Then, we show the global convergence of the mean-field Langevin dynamics and derive time and particle discretization error. We also demonstrate that two-layer neural networks can learn a union of multiple reproducing kernel Hilbert spaces more efficiently than any kernel methods, and neural networks acquire data-dependent kernel which aligns with the target function. In addition, we develop a label noise procedure, which converges to the global optimum and show that the degrees of freedom appears as an implicit regularization.

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Authors:Michael Poli, Armin W Thomas, Eric Nguyen, Pragaash Ponnusamy, Björn Deiseroth, Kristian Kersting, Taiji Suzuki, Brian Hie, Stefano Ermon, Christopher Ré(+2 more)

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Abstract:The development of deep learning architectures is a resource-demanding process, due to a vast design space, long prototyping times, and high compute costs associated with at-scale model training and evaluation. We set out to simplify this process by grounding it in an end-to-end mechanistic architecture design (MAD) pipeline, encompassing small-scale capability unit tests predictive of scaling laws. Through a suite of synthetic token manipulation tasks such as compression and recall, designed to probe capabilities, we identify and test new hybrid architectures constructed from a variety of computational primitives. We experimentally validate the resulting architectures via an extensive compute-optimal and a new state-optimal scaling law analysis, training over 500 language models between 70M to 7B parameters. Surprisingly, we find MAD synthetics to correlate with compute-optimal perplexity, enabling accurate evaluation of new architectures via isolated proxy tasks. The new architectures found via MAD, based on simple ideas such as hybridization and sparsity, outperform state-of-the-art Transformer, convolutional, and recurrent architectures (Transformer++, Hyena, Mamba) in scaling, both at compute-optimal budgets and in overtrained regimes. Overall, these results provide evidence that performance on curated synthetic tasks can be predictive of scaling laws, and that an optimal architecture should leverage specialized layers via a hybrid topology.

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Abstract:Transformers have achieved state-of-the-art performance in language modeling tasks. However, the reasons behind their tremendous success are still unclear. In this paper, towards a better understanding, we train a Transformer model on a simple next token prediction task, where sequences are generated as a first-order autoregressive process $s_{t+1} = W s_t$. We show how a trained Transformer predicts the next token by first learning $W$ in-context, then applying a prediction mapping. We call the resulting procedure in-context autoregressive learning. More precisely, focusing on commuting orthogonal matrices $W$, we first show that a trained one-layer linear Transformer implements one step of gradient descent for the minimization of an inner objective function, when considering augmented tokens. When the tokens are not augmented, we characterize the global minima of a one-layer diagonal linear multi-head Transformer. Importantly, we exhibit orthogonality between heads and show that positional encoding captures trigonometric relations in the data. On the experimental side, we consider the general case of non-commuting orthogonal matrices and generalize our theoretical findings.

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