Poster

Investigating Generalization by Controlling Normalized Margin

Alexander Farhang · Jeremy Bernstein · Kushal Tirumala · Yang Liu · Yisong Yue

Hall E #319

Keywords: [ Deep Learning ]


Abstract:

Weight norm ‖W‖ and margin γ participate in learning theory via the normalized margin γ/‖W‖. Since standard neural net optimizers do not control normalized margin, it is hard to test whether this quantity causally relates to generalization. This paper designs a series of experimental studies that explicitly control normalized margin and thereby tackle two central questions. First: does normalized margin always have a causal effect on generalization? The paper finds that no—networks can be produced where normalized margin has seemingly no relationship with generalization, counter to the theory of Bartlett et al. (2017). Second: does normalized margin ever have a causal effect on generalization? The paper finds that yes—in a standard training setup, test performance closely tracks normalized margin. The paper suggests a Gaussian process model as a promising explanation for this behavior.

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