Oral
On the Spectral Bias of Neural Networks
Nasim Rahaman · Aristide Baratin · Devansh Arpit · Felix Draxler · Min Lin · Fred Hamprecht · Yoshua Bengio · Aaron Courville

Thu Jun 13th 11:20 -- 11:25 AM @ Grand Ballroom

Neural networks are known to be a class of highly expressive functions able to fit even random input-output mappings with 100% accuracy. In this work we present properties of neural networks that complement this aspect of expressivity. By using tools from Fourier analysis, we highlight a learning bias of deep networks towards low frequency functions -- i.e. functions that vary globally without local fluctuations -- which manifests itself as a frequency-dependent learning speed. Intuitively, this property is in line with the observation that over-parameterized networks prioritize learning simple patterns that generalize across data samples. We also investigate the role of the shape of the data manifold by presenting empirical and theoretical evidence that, somewhat counter-intuitively, learning higher frequencies gets easier with increasing manifold complexity.

Author Information

Nasim Rahaman (University of Heidelberg)
Aristide Baratin (MILA)
Devansh Arpit (Montréal Institute for Learning Algorithms, Canada)
Felix Draxler (Heidelberg University)
Min Lin (University of Montreal)
Fred Hamprecht (Heidelberg Collaboratory for Image Processing)
Yoshua Bengio (Mila / U. Montreal)

Yoshua Bengio (PhD'1991 in Computer Science, McGill University). After two post-doctoral years, one at MIT with Michael Jordan and one at AT&T Bell Laboratories with Yann LeCun, he became professor at the department of computer science and operations research at Université de Montréal. Author of two books (a third is in preparation) and more than 200 publications, he is among the most cited Canadian computer scientists and is or has been associate editor of the top journals in machine learning and neural networks. Since '2000 he holds a Canada Research Chair in Statistical Learning Algorithms, since '2006 an NSERC Chair, since '2005 his is a Senior Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and since 2014 he co-directs its program focused on deep learning. He is on the board of the NIPS foundation and has been program chair and general chair for NIPS. He has co-organized the Learning Workshop for 14 years and co-created the International Conference on Learning Representations. His interests are centered around a quest for AI through machine learning, and include fundamental questions on deep learning, representation learning, the geometry of generalization in high-dimensional spaces, manifold learning and biologically inspired learning algorithms.

Aaron Courville (University of Montreal)

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