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University of Birmingham

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Abstract:In this paper some methods to use the empirical bootstrap approach for stochastic gradient descent (SGD) to minimize the empirical risk over a separable Hilbert space are investigated from the view point of algorithmic stability and statistical robustness. The first two types of approaches are based on averages and are investigated from a theoretical point of view. A generalization analysis for bootstrap SGD of Type 1 and Type 2 based on algorithmic stability is done. Another type of bootstrap SGD is proposed to demonstrate that it is possible to construct purely distribution-free pointwise confidence intervals of the median curve using bootstrap SGD.

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Abstract:The Alternating Direction Method of Multipliers (ADMM) has gained significant attention across a broad spectrum of machine learning applications. Incorporating the over-relaxation technique shows potential for enhancing the convergence rate of ADMM. However, determining optimal algorithmic parameters, including both the associated penalty and relaxation parameters, often relies on empirical approaches tailored to specific problem domains and contextual scenarios. Incorrect parameter selection can significantly hinder ADMM's convergence rate. To address this challenge, in this paper we first propose a general approach to optimize the value of penalty parameter, followed by a novel closed-form formula to compute the optimal relaxation parameter in the context of linear quadratic problems (LQPs). We then experimentally validate our parameter selection methods through random instantiations and diverse imaging applications, encompassing diffeomorphic image registration, image deblurring, and MRI reconstruction.

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Abstract:The increasing scale of data propels the popularity of leveraging parallelism to speed up the optimization. Minibatch stochastic gradient descent (minibatch SGD) and local SGD are two popular methods for parallel optimization. The existing theoretical studies show a linear speedup of these methods with respect to the number of machines, which, however, is measured by optimization errors. As a comparison, the stability and generalization of these methods are much less studied. In this paper, we pioneer the stability and generalization analysis of minibatch and local SGD to understand their learnability. We incorporate training errors into the stability analysis, which shows how small training errors help generalization for overparameterized models. Our stability bounds imply optimistic risk bounds which decay fast under a low noise condition. We show both minibatch and local SGD achieve a linear speedup to attain the optimal risk bounds.

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Abstract:Recently, significant progress has been made in understanding the generalization of neural networks (NNs) trained by gradient descent (GD) using the algorithmic stability approach. However, most of the existing research has focused on one-hidden-layer NNs and has not addressed the impact of different network scaling parameters. In this paper, we greatly extend the previous work \cite{lei2022stability,richards2021stability} by conducting a comprehensive stability and generalization analysis of GD for multi-layer NNs. For two-layer NNs, our results are established under general network scaling parameters, relaxing previous conditions. In the case of three-layer NNs, our technical contribution lies in demonstrating its nearly co-coercive property by utilizing a novel induction strategy that thoroughly explores the effects of over-parameterization. As a direct application of our general findings, we derive the excess risk rate of $O(1/\sqrt{n})$ for GD algorithms in both two-layer and three-layer NNs. This sheds light on sufficient or necessary conditions for under-parameterized and over-parameterized NNs trained by GD to attain the desired risk rate of $O(1/\sqrt{n})$. Moreover, we demonstrate that as the scaling parameter increases or the network complexity decreases, less over-parameterization is required for GD to achieve the desired error rates. Additionally, under a low-noise condition, we obtain a fast risk rate of $O(1/n)$ for GD in both two-layer and three-layer NNs.

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Abstract:Recently, contrastive learning has found impressive success in advancing the state of the art in solving various machine learning tasks. However, the existing generalization analysis is very limited or even not meaningful. In particular, the existing generalization error bounds depend linearly on the number $k$ of negative examples while it was widely shown in practice that choosing a large $k$ is necessary to guarantee good generalization of contrastive learning in downstream tasks. In this paper, we establish novel generalization bounds for contrastive learning which do not depend on $k$, up to logarithmic terms. Our analysis uses structural results on empirical covering numbers and Rademacher complexities to exploit the Lipschitz continuity of loss functions. For self-bounding Lipschitz loss functions, we further improve our results by developing optimistic bounds which imply fast rates in a low noise condition. We apply our results to learning with both linear representation and nonlinear representation by deep neural networks, for both of which we derive Rademacher complexity bounds to get improved generalization bounds.

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Abstract:We study inductive matrix completion (matrix completion with side information) under an i.i.d. subgaussian noise assumption at a low noise regime, with uniform sampling of the entries. We obtain for the first time generalization bounds with the following three properties: (1) they scale like the standard deviation of the noise and in particular approach zero in the exact recovery case; (2) even in the presence of noise, they converge to zero when the sample size approaches infinity; and (3) for a fixed dimension of the side information, they only have a logarithmic dependence on the size of the matrix. Differently from many works in approximate recovery, we present results both for bounded Lipschitz losses and for the absolute loss, with the latter relying on Talagrand-type inequalities. The proofs create a bridge between two approaches to the theoretical analysis of matrix completion, since they consist in a combination of techniques from both the exact recovery literature and the approximate recovery literature.

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Abstract:(Stochastic) bilevel optimization is a frequently encountered problem in machine learning with a wide range of applications such as meta-learning, hyper-parameter optimization, and reinforcement learning. Most of the existing studies on this problem only focused on analyzing the convergence or improving the convergence rate, while little effort has been devoted to understanding its generalization behaviors. In this paper, we conduct a thorough analysis on the generalization of first-order (gradient-based) methods for the bilevel optimization problem. We first establish a fundamental connection between algorithmic stability and generalization error in different forms and give a high probability generalization bound which improves the previous best one from $\bigO(\sqrt{n})$ to $\bigO(\log n)$, where $n$ is the sample size. We then provide the first stability bounds for the general case where both inner and outer level parameters are subject to continuous update, while existing work allows only the outer level parameter to be updated. Our analysis can be applied in various standard settings such as strongly-convex-strongly-convex (SC-SC), convex-convex (C-C), and nonconvex-nonconvex (NC-NC). Our analysis for the NC-NC setting can also be extended to a particular nonconvex-strongly-convex (NC-SC) setting that is commonly encountered in practice. Finally, we corroborate our theoretical analysis and demonstrate how iterations can affect the generalization error by experiments on meta-learning and hyper-parameter optimization.

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Abstract:While significant theoretical progress has been achieved, unveiling the generalization mystery of overparameterized neural networks still remains largely elusive. In this paper, we study the generalization behavior of shallow neural networks (SNNs) by leveraging the concept of algorithmic stability. We consider gradient descent (GD) and stochastic gradient descent (SGD) to train SNNs, for both of which we develop consistent excess risk bounds by balancing the optimization and generalization via early-stopping. As compared to existing analysis on GD, our new analysis requires a relaxed overparameterization assumption and also applies to SGD. The key for the improvement is a better estimation of the smallest eigenvalues of the Hessian matrices of the empirical risks and the loss function along the trajectories of GD and SGD by providing a refined estimation of their iterates.

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Abstract:Recently there is a large amount of work devoted to the study of Markov chain stochastic gradient methods (MC-SGMs) which mainly focus on their convergence analysis for solving minimization problems. In this paper, we provide a comprehensive generalization analysis of MC-SGMs for both minimization and minimax problems through the lens of algorithmic stability in the framework of statistical learning theory. For empirical risk minimization (ERM) problems, we establish the optimal excess population risk bounds for both smooth and non-smooth cases by introducing on-average argument stability. For minimax problems, we develop a quantitative connection between on-average argument stability and generalization error which extends the existing results for uniform stability \cite{lei2021stability}. We further develop the first nearly optimal convergence rates for convex-concave problems both in expectation and with high probability, which, combined with our stability results, show that the optimal generalization bounds can be attained for both smooth and non-smooth cases. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first generalization analysis of SGMs when the gradients are sampled from a Markov process.

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Abstract:In this paper, by introducing a low-noise condition, we study privacy and utility (generalization) performances of differentially private stochastic gradient descent (SGD) algorithms in a setting of stochastic convex optimization (SCO) for both pointwise and pairwise learning problems. For pointwise learning, we establish sharper excess risk bounds of order $\mathcal{O}\Big( \frac{\sqrt{d\log(1/\delta)}}{n\epsilon} \Big)$ and $\mathcal{O}\Big( {n^{- \frac{1+\alpha}{2}}}+\frac{\sqrt{d\log(1/\delta)}}{n\epsilon}\Big)$ for the $(\epsilon,\delta)$-differentially private SGD algorithm for strongly smooth and $\alpha$-H\"older smooth losses, respectively, where $n$ is the sample size and $d$ is the dimensionality. For pairwise learning, inspired by \cite{lei2020sharper,lei2021generalization}, we propose a simple private SGD algorithm based on gradient perturbation which satisfies $(\epsilon,\delta)$-differential privacy, and develop novel utility bounds for the proposed algorithm. In particular, we prove that our algorithm can achieve excess risk rates $\mathcal{O}\Big(\frac{1}{\sqrt{n}}+\frac{\sqrt{d\log(1/\delta)}}{n\epsilon}\Big)$ with gradient complexity $\mathcal{O}(n)$ and $\mathcal{O}\big(n^{\frac{2-\alpha}{1+\alpha}}+n\big)$ for strongly smooth and $\alpha$-H\"older smooth losses, respectively. Further, faster learning rates are established in a low-noise setting for both smooth and non-smooth losses. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first utility analysis which provides excess population bounds better than $\mathcal{O}\Big(\frac{1}{\sqrt{n}}+\frac{\sqrt{d\log(1/\delta)}}{n\epsilon}\Big)$ for privacy-preserving pairwise learning.

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