Department seminar by Joe Zhong

Monday, December 20, 2021 12:00 pm - 12:00 pm EST (GMT -05:00)

Please Note: This seminar will be given online.

Department seminar

Joe Zhong
Stanford University

Link to join seminar: Hosted on Zoom

Interpolation Phase Transition in Neural Networks: Memorization and Generalization under Neural Tangent Model

A mystery of modern neural networks is their surprising generalization power in overparametrized regime: they comprise so many parameters that they can interpolate the training set, even if actual labels are replaced by purely random ones; despite this, they achieve good prediction error on unseen data.

To demystify the above phenomena, we focus on two-layer neural networks in the neural tangent (NT) regime. Under a simple data model where n inputs are d-dimensional isotropic vectors and there are N hidden neurons, we show that as soon as Nd >> n, the minimum eigenvalue of the empirical NT kernel is bounded away from zero, and therefore the network can exactly interpolate arbitrary labels. 

Next, we study the generalization error of NT ridge regression (including min-norm interpolation). We show that in the same overparametrization regime Nd >> n, in terms of generalization errors, NT ridge regression is well approximated by kernel ridge regression (infinite-width kernel), which is further approximated by polynomial ridge regression. A surprising phenomenon is the “self-induced” regularization due to the high-degree components of the activation function. 

Link to the ArXiv paper:


Yiqiao Zhong is currently a postdoc at Stanford University, advised by Prof. Andrea Montanari and Prof. David Donoho. His research interest includes deep learning theory, high-dimensional statistics, and optimization. Prior to this, Joe Zhong obtained his PhD in 2019 from Princeton University, where he was advised by Prof. Jianqing Fan, and a B.S. in mathematics from Peking University in 2014.