Gradient Descent on Two-layer Nets: Margin Maximization and Simplicity Bias

Kaifeng Lyu, Zhiyuan Li, Runzhe Wang, Sanjeev Arora

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

The generalization mystery of overparametrized deep nets has motivated efforts to understand how gradient descent (GD) converges to low-loss solutions that generalize well. Real-life neural networks are initialized from small random values and trained with cross-entropy loss for classification (unlike the "lazy" or "NTK" regime of training where analysis was more successful), and a recent sequence of results (Lyu and Li, 2020; Chizat and Bach, 2020; Ji and Telgarsky, 2020a) provide theoretical evidence that GD may converge to the "max-margin" solution with zero loss, which presumably generalizes well. However, the global optimality of margin is proved only in some settings where neural nets are infinitely or exponentially wide. The current paper is able to establish this global optimality for two-layer Leaky ReLU nets trained with gradient flow on linearly separable and symmetric data, regardless of the width. The analysis also gives some theoretical justification for recent empirical findings (Kalimeris et al., 2019) on the so-called simplicity bias of GD towards linear or other "simple" classes of solutions, especially early in training. On the pessimistic side, the paper suggests that such results are fragile. A simple data manipulation can make gradient flow converge to a linear classifier with suboptimal margin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 - 35th Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, NeurIPS 2021
EditorsMarc'Aurelio Ranzato, Alina Beygelzimer, Yann Dauphin, Percy S. Liang, Jenn Wortman Vaughan
PublisherNeural information processing systems foundation
Pages12978-12991
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781713845393
StatePublished - 2021
Event35th Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, NeurIPS 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Dec 6 2021Dec 14 2021

Publication series

NameAdvances in Neural Information Processing Systems
Volume16
ISSN (Print)1049-5258

Conference

Conference35th Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, NeurIPS 2021
CityVirtual, Online
Period12/6/2112/14/21

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Information Systems
  • Signal Processing

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