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A Mean Field Analysis Of Deep ResNet And Beyond: Towards Provably Optimization Via Overparameterization From Depth

Yiping Lu · Chao Ma · Yulong Lu · Jianfeng Lu · Lexing Ying

Keywords: [ Deep Learning Theory ] [ Optimization ] [ Deep Learning - Theory ]


Training deep neural networks with stochastic gradient descent (SGD) can often achieve zero training loss on real-world tasks although the optimization landscape is known to be highly non-convex. To understand the success of SGD for training deep neural networks, this work presents a mean-field analysis of deep residual networks, based on a line of works which interpret the continuum limit of the deep residual network as an ordinary differential equation as the the network capacity tends to infinity. Specifically, we propose a \textbf{new continuum limit} of deep residual networks, which enjoys a good landscape in the sense that \textbf{every local minimizer is global}. This characterization enables us to derive the first global convergence result for multilayer neural networks in the mean-field regime. Furthermore, our proof does not rely on the convexity of the loss landscape, but instead, an assumption on the global minimizer should achieve zero loss which can be achieved when the model shares a universal approximation property. Key to our result is the observation that a deep residual network resembles a shallow network ensemble~\cite{veit2016residual}, \emph{i.e.} a two-layer network. We bound the difference between the shallow network and our ResNet model via the adjoint sensitivity method, which enables us to transfer previous mean-field analysis of two-layer networks to deep networks. Furthermore, we propose several novel training schemes based on our new continuous model, among which one new training procedure introduces the operation of switching the order of the residual blocks and results in strong empirical performance on benchmark datasets.

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