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Leyang Zhang, Yaoyu Zhang, Tao Luo

Under mild assumptions, we investigate the structure of loss landscape of two-layer neural networks near global minima, determine the set of parameters which give perfect generalization, and fully characterize the gradient flows around it. With novel techniques, our work uncovers some simple aspects of the complicated loss landscape and reveals how model, target function, samples and initialization affect the training dynamics differently. Based on these results, we also explain why (overparametrized) neural networks could generalize well.

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Yaoyu Zhang, Zhongwang Zhang, Leyang Zhang, Zhiwei Bai, Tao Luo, Zhi-Qin John Xu

We propose an optimistic estimate to evaluate the best possible fitting performance of nonlinear models. It yields an optimistic sample size that quantifies the smallest possible sample size to fit/recover a target function using a nonlinear model. We estimate the optimistic sample sizes for matrix factorization models, deep models, and deep neural networks (DNNs) with fully-connected or convolutional architecture. For each nonlinear model, our estimates predict a specific subset of targets that can be fitted at overparameterization, which are confirmed by our experiments. Our optimistic estimate reveals two special properties of the DNN models -- free expressiveness in width and costly expressiveness in connection. These properties suggest the following architecture design principles of DNNs: (i) feel free to add neurons/kernels; (ii) restrain from connecting neurons. Overall, our optimistic estimate theoretically unveils the vast potential of nonlinear models in fitting at overparameterization. Based on this framework, we anticipate gaining a deeper understanding of how and why numerous nonlinear models such as DNNs can effectively realize their potential in practice in the near future.

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Yaoyu Zhang, Zhongwang Zhang, Leyang Zhang, Zhiwei Bai, Tao Luo, Zhi-Qin John Xu

Models with nonlinear architectures/parameterizations such as deep neural networks (DNNs) are well known for their mysteriously good generalization performance at overparameterization. In this work, we tackle this mystery from a novel perspective focusing on the transition of the target recovery/fitting accuracy as a function of the training data size. We propose a rank stratification for general nonlinear models to uncover a model rank as an "effective size of parameters" for each function in the function space of the corresponding model. Moreover, we establish a linear stability theory proving that a target function almost surely becomes linearly stable when the training data size equals its model rank. Supported by our experiments, we propose a linear stability hypothesis that linearly stable functions are preferred by nonlinear training. By these results, model rank of a target function predicts a minimal training data size for its successful recovery. Specifically for the matrix factorization model and DNNs of fully-connected or convolutional architectures, our rank stratification shows that the model rank for specific target functions can be much lower than the size of model parameters. This result predicts the target recovery capability even at heavy overparameterization for these nonlinear models as demonstrated quantitatively by our experiments. Overall, our work provides a unified framework with quantitative prediction power to understand the mysterious target recovery behavior at overparameterization for general nonlinear models.

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Zhiwei Bai, Tao Luo, Zhi-Qin John Xu, Yaoyu Zhang

Unraveling the general structure underlying the loss landscapes of deep neural networks (DNNs) is important for the theoretical study of deep learning. Inspired by the embedding principle of DNN loss landscape, we prove in this work an embedding principle in depth that loss landscape of an NN "contains" all critical points of the loss landscapes for shallower NNs. Specifically, we propose a critical lifting operator that any critical point of a shallower network can be lifted to a critical manifold of the target network while preserving the outputs. Through lifting, local minimum of an NN can become a strict saddle point of a deeper NN, which can be easily escaped by first-order methods. The embedding principle in depth reveals a large family of critical points in which layer linearization happens, i.e., computation of certain layers is effectively linear for the training inputs. We empirically demonstrate that, through suppressing layer linearization, batch normalization helps avoid the lifted critical manifolds, resulting in a faster decay of loss. We also demonstrate that increasing training data reduces the lifted critical manifold thus could accelerate the training. Overall, the embedding principle in depth well complements the embedding principle (in width), resulting in a complete characterization of the hierarchical structure of critical points/manifolds of a DNN loss landscape.

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Hanxu Zhou, Qixuan Zhou, Zhenyuan Jin, Tao Luo, Yaoyu Zhang, Zhi-Qin John Xu

Substantial work indicates that the dynamics of neural networks (NNs) is closely related to their initialization of parameters. Inspired by the phase diagram for two-layer ReLU NNs with infinite width (Luo et al., 2021), we make a step towards drawing a phase diagram for three-layer ReLU NNs with infinite width. First, we derive a normalized gradient flow for three-layer ReLU NNs and obtain two key independent quantities to distinguish different dynamical regimes for common initialization methods. With carefully designed experiments and a large computation cost, for both synthetic datasets and real datasets, we find that the dynamics of each layer also could be divided into a linear regime and a condensed regime, separated by a critical regime. The criteria is the relative change of input weights (the input weight of a hidden neuron consists of the weight from its input layer to the hidden neuron and its bias term) as the width approaches infinity during the training, which tends to $0$, $+\infty$ and $O(1)$, respectively. In addition, we also demonstrate that different layers can lie in different dynamical regimes in a training process within a deep NN. In the condensed regime, we also observe the condensation of weights in isolated orientations with low complexity. Through experiments under three-layer condition, our phase diagram suggests a complicated dynamical regimes consisting of three possible regimes, together with their mixture, for deep NNs and provides a guidance for studying deep NNs in different initialization regimes, which reveals the possibility of completely different dynamics emerging within a deep NN for its different layers.

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Leyang Zhang, Zhi-Qin John Xu, Tao Luo, Yaoyu Zhang

In recent years, understanding the implicit regularization of neural networks (NNs) has become a central task of deep learning theory. However, implicit regularization is in itself not completely defined and well understood. In this work, we make an attempt to mathematically define and study the implicit regularization. Importantly, we explore the limitation of a common approach of characterizing the implicit regularization by data-independent functions. We propose two dynamical mechanisms, i.e., Two-point and One-point Overlapping mechanisms, based on which we provide two recipes for producing classes of one-hidden-neuron NNs that provably cannot be fully characterized by a type of or all data-independent functions. Our results signify the profound data-dependency of implicit regularization in general, inspiring us to study in detail the data-dependency of NN implicit regularization in the future.

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Zhi-Qin John Xu, Yaoyu Zhang, Tao Luo

Understanding deep learning is increasingly emergent as it penetrates more and more into industry and science. In recent years, a research line from Fourier analysis sheds lights into this magical "black box" by showing a Frequency Principle (F-Principle or spectral bias) of the training behavior of deep neural networks (DNNs) -- DNNs often fit functions from low to high frequency during the training. The F-Principle is first demonstrated by one-dimensional synthetic data followed by the verification in high-dimensional real datasets. A series of works subsequently enhance the validity of the F-Principle. This low-frequency implicit bias reveals the strength of neural network in learning low-frequency functions as well as its deficiency in learning high-frequency functions. Such understanding inspires the design of DNN-based algorithms in practical problems, explains experimental phenomena emerging in various scenarios, and further advances the study of deep learning from the frequency perspective. Although incomplete, we provide an overview of F-Principle and propose some open problems for future research.

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Tianhan Zhang, Yuxiao Yi, Yifan Xu, Zhi X. Chen, Yaoyu Zhang, Weinan E, Zhi-Qin John Xu

Machine learning has long been considered as a black box for predicting combustion chemical kinetics due to the extremely large number of parameters and the lack of evaluation standards and reproducibility. The current work aims to understand two basic questions regarding the deep neural network (DNN) method: what data the DNN needs and how general the DNN method can be. Sampling and preprocessing determine the DNN training dataset, further affect DNN prediction ability. The current work proposes using Box-Cox transformation (BCT) to preprocess the combustion data. In addition, this work compares different sampling methods with or without preprocessing, including the Monte Carlo method, manifold sampling, generative neural network method (cycle-GAN), and newly-proposed multi-scale sampling. Our results reveal that the DNN trained by the manifold data can capture the chemical kinetics in limited configurations but cannot remain robust toward perturbation, which is inevitable for the DNN coupled with the flow field. The Monte Carlo and cycle-GAN samplings can cover a wider phase space but fail to capture small-scale intermediate species, producing poor prediction results. A three-hidden-layer DNN, based on the multi-scale method without specific flame simulation data, allows predicting chemical kinetics in various scenarios and being stable during the temporal evolutions. This single DNN is readily implemented with several CFD codes and validated in various combustors, including (1). zero-dimensional autoignition, (2). one-dimensional freely propagating flame, (3). two-dimensional jet flame with triple-flame structure, and (4). three-dimensional turbulent lifted flames. The results demonstrate the satisfying accuracy and generalization ability of the pre-trained DNN. The Fortran and Python versions of DNN and example code are attached in the supplementary for reproducibility.

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Zhiwei Wang, Yaoyu Zhang, Yiguang Ju, Weinan E, Zhi-Qin John Xu, Tianhan Zhang

A deep learning-based model reduction (DeePMR) method for simplifying chemical kinetics is proposed and validated using high-temperature auto-ignitions, perfectly stirred reactors (PSR), and one-dimensional freely propagating flames of n-heptane/air mixtures. The mechanism reduction is modeled as an optimization problem on Boolean space, where a Boolean vector, each entry corresponding to a species, represents a reduced mechanism. The optimization goal is to minimize the reduced mechanism size given the error tolerance of a group of pre-selected benchmark quantities. The key idea of the DeePMR is to employ a deep neural network (DNN) to formulate the objective function in the optimization problem. In order to explore high dimensional Boolean space efficiently, an iterative DNN-assisted data sampling and DNN training procedure are implemented. The results show that DNN-assistance improves sampling efficiency significantly, selecting only $10^5$ samples out of $10^{34}$ possible samples for DNN to achieve sufficient accuracy. The results demonstrate the capability of the DNN to recognize key species and reasonably predict reduced mechanism performance. The well-trained DNN guarantees the optimal reduced mechanism by solving an inverse optimization problem. By comparing ignition delay times, laminar flame speeds, temperatures in PSRs, the resulting skeletal mechanism has fewer species (45 species) but the same level of accuracy as the skeletal mechanism (56 species) obtained by the Path Flux Analysis (PFA) method. In addition, the skeletal mechanism can be further reduced to 28 species if only considering atmospheric, near-stoichiometric conditions (equivalence ratio between 0.6 and 1.2). The DeePMR provides an innovative way to perform model reduction and demonstrates the great potential of data-driven methods in the combustion area.

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Yaoyu Zhang, Yuqing Li, Zhongwang Zhang, Tao Luo, Zhi-Qin John Xu

We prove a general Embedding Principle of loss landscape of deep neural networks (NNs) that unravels a hierarchical structure of the loss landscape of NNs, i.e., loss landscape of an NN contains all critical points of all the narrower NNs. This result is obtained by constructing a class of critical embeddings which map any critical point of a narrower NN to a critical point of the target NN with the same output function. By discovering a wide class of general compatible critical embeddings, we provide a gross estimate of the dimension of critical submanifolds embedded from critical points of narrower NNs. We further prove an irreversiblility property of any critical embedding that the number of negative/zero/positive eigenvalues of the Hessian matrix of a critical point may increase but never decrease as an NN becomes wider through the embedding. Using a special realization of general compatible critical embedding, we prove a stringent necessary condition for being a "truly-bad" critical point that never becomes a strict-saddle point through any critical embedding. This result implies the commonplace of strict-saddle points in wide NNs, which may be an important reason underlying the easy optimization of wide NNs widely observed in practice.

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