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Risk Bounds for Transferring Representations With and Without Fine-Tuning
Daniel McNamara · Nina Balcan

Mon Aug 07 01:30 AM -- 05:00 AM (PDT) @ Gallery #146

A popular machine learning strategy is the transfer of a representation (i.e. a feature extraction function) learned on a source task to a target task. Examples include the re-use of neural network weights or word embeddings. We develop sufficient conditions for the success of this approach. If the representation learned from the source task is fixed, we identify conditions on how the tasks relate to obtain an upper bound on target task risk via a VC dimension-based argument. We then consider using the representation from the source task to construct a prior, which is fine-tuned using target task data. We give a PAC-Bayes target task risk bound in this setting under suitable conditions. We show examples of our bounds using feedforward neural networks. Our results motivate a practical approach to weight transfer, which we validate with experiments.

Author Information

Daniel McNamara (Australian National University and Data61)
Nina Balcan (Carnegie Mellon University)
Nina Balcan

Maria-Florina Balcan is an Associate Professor in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. Her main research interests are machine learning and theoretical computer science. Her honors include the CMU SCS Distinguished Dissertation Award, an NSF CAREER Award, a Microsoft Faculty Research Fellowship, a Sloan Research Fellowship, and several paper awards. She has served as a Program Committee Co-chair for COLT 2014, a Program Committee Co-chair for ICML 2016, and a board member of the International Machine Learning Society.

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