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A theory of representation learning gives a deep generalisation of kernel methods

Adam Yang · Maxime Robeyns · Edward Milsom · Ben Anson · Nandi Schoots · Laurence Aitchison

Exhibit Hall 1 #408


The successes of modern deep machine learning methods are founded on their ability to transform inputs across multiple layers to build good high-level representations. It is therefore critical to understand this process of representation learning. However, standard theoretical approaches (formally NNGPs) involving infinite width limits eliminate representation learning. We therefore develop a new infinite width limit, the Bayesian representation learning limit, that exhibits representation learning mirroring that in finite-width models, yet at the same time, retains some of the simplicity of standard infinite-width limits. In particular, we show that Deep Gaussian processes (DGPs) in the Bayesian representation learning limit have exactly multivariate Gaussian posteriors, and the posterior covariances can be obtained by optimizing an interpretable objective combining a log-likelihood to improve performance with a series of KL-divergences which keep the posteriors close to the prior. We confirm these results experimentally in wide but finite DGPs. Next, we introduce the possibility of using this limit and objective as a flexible, deep generalisation of kernel methods, that we call deep kernel machines (DKMs). Like most naive kernel methods, DKMs scale cubically in the number of datapoints. We therefore use methods from the Gaussian process inducing point literature to develop a sparse DKM that scales linearly in the number of datapoints. Finally, we extend these approaches to NNs (which have non-Gaussian posteriors) in the Appendices.

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