Towards Understanding Generalization via Decomposing Excess Risk Dynamics

International Conference on Learning Representations (ICLR)(2022)

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Generalization is one of the critical issues in machine learning. However, traditional methods like uniform convergence are not powerful enough to fully explain generalization because they may yield vacuous bounds even in overparameterized linear regression regimes. An alternative solution is to analyze the generalization dynamics to derive algorithm-dependent bounds, e.g., stability. Unfortunately, the stability-based bound is still far from explaining the remarkable generalization ability of neural networks due to the coarse-grained analysis of the signal and noise. Inspired by the observation that neural networks show a slow convergence rate when fitting noise, we propose decomposing the excess risk dynamics and applying stability-based bound only on the variance part (which measures how the model performs on pure noise). We provide two applications for the framework, including a linear case (overparameterized linear regression with gradient descent) and a non-linear case (matrix recovery with gradient flow). Under the decomposition framework, the new bound accords better with the theoretical and empirical evidence compared to the stability-based bound and uniform convergence bound.
generalization,excess risk,stability,dynamics
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