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Free, publiclyaccessible full text available January 1, 2023

Recent work has highlighted the role of initialization scale in determining the structure of the solutions that gradient methods converge to. In particular, it was shown that large initialization leads to the neural tangent kernel regime solution, whereas small initialization leads to so called “rich regimes”. However, the initialization structure is richer than the overall scale alone and involves relative magnitudes of different weights and layers in the network. Here we show that these relative scales, which we refer to as initialization shape, play an important role in determining the learned model. We develop a novel technique for deriving the inductive bias of gradientflow and use it to obtain closedform implicit regularizers for multiple cases of interest.

We provide a detailed asymptotic study of gradient flow trajectories and their implicit optimization bias when minimizing the exponential loss over "diagonal linear networks". This is the simplest model displaying a transition between "kernel" and nonkernel ("rich" or "active") regimes. We show how the transition is controlled by the relationship between the initialization scale and how accurately we minimize the training loss. Our results indicate that some limit behaviors of gradient descent only kick in at ridiculous training accuracies (well beyond 10−100). Moreover, the implicit bias at reasonable initialization scales and training accuracies is more complex and not captured by these limits.

A recent line of work studies overparametrized neural networks in the “kernel regime,” i.e. when during training the network behaves as a kernelized linear predictor, and thus, training with gradient descent has the effect of finding the corresponding minimum RKHS norm solution. This stands in contrast to other studies which demonstrate how gradient descent on overparametrized networks can induce rich implicit biases that are not RKHS norms. Building on an observation by \citet{chizat2018note}, we show how the \textbf{\textit{scale of the initialization}} controls the transition between the “kernel” (aka lazy) and “rich” (aka active) regimes and affects generalization properties in multilayer homogeneous models. We provide a complete and detailed analysis for a family of simple depthD linear networks that exhibit an interesting and meaningful transition between the kernel and rich regimes, and highlight an interesting role for the \emph{width} of the models. We further demonstrate this transition empirically for matrix factorization and multilayer nonlinear networks.