Heavy-Tailed Universality Predicts Trends in Test Accuracies for Very Large Pre-Trained Deep Neural Networks

TitleHeavy-Tailed Universality Predicts Trends in Test Accuracies for Very Large Pre-Trained Deep Neural Networks
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsMartin, C.. H., & Mahoney M. W.
Published inProceedings of 2020 SDM Conference

Given two or more Deep Neural Networks (DNNs) with the same or similar architectures, and trained on the same dataset, but trained with different solvers, parameters, hyper-parameters, regularization, etc., can we predict which DNN will have the best test accuracy, and can we do so without peeking at the test data? In this paper, we show how to use a new Theory of Heavy-Tailed Self-Regularization (HT-SR) to answer this. HT-SR suggests, among other things, that modern DNNs exhibit what we call Heavy-Tailed Mechanistic Universality (HT-MU), meaning that the correlations in the layer weight matrices can be fit to a power law (PL) with exponents that lie in common Universality classes from Heavy-Tailed Random Matrix Theory (HT-RMT). From this, we develop a Universal capacity control metric that is a weighted average of PL exponents. Rather than considering small toy NNs, we examine over 50 different, large-scale pre-trained DNNs, ranging over 15 different architectures, trained on ImagetNet, each of which has been reported to have different test accuracies. We show that this new capacity metric correlates very well with the reported test accuracies of these DNNs, looking across each architecture (VGG16/.../VGG19, ResNet10/.../ResNet152, etc.). We also show how to approximate the metric by the more familiar Product Norm capacity measure, as the average of the log Frobenius norm of the layer weight matrices. Our approach requires no changes to the underlying DNN or its loss function, it does not require us to train a model (although it could be used to monitor training), and it does not even require access to the ImageNet data.

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