Large Scale Structure of Neural Network Loss Landscapes

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32 (NeurIPS 2019)

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Stanislav Fort, Stanislaw Jastrzebski


There are many surprising and perhaps counter-intuitive properties of optimization of deep neural networks. We propose and experimentally verify a unified phenomenological model of the loss landscape that incorporates many of them. High dimensionality plays a key role in our model. Our core idea is to model the loss landscape as a set of high dimensional \emph{wedges} that together form a large-scale, inter-connected structure and towards which optimization is drawn. We first show that hyperparameter choices such as learning rate, network width and $L_2$ regularization, affect the path optimizer takes through the landscape in similar ways, influencing the large scale curvature of the regions the optimizer explores. Finally, we predict and demonstrate new counter-intuitive properties of the loss-landscape. We show an existence of low loss subspaces connecting a set (not only a pair) of solutions, and verify it experimentally. Finally, we analyze recently popular ensembling techniques for deep networks in the light of our model.