Spectra of the Conjugate Kernel and Neural Tangent Kernel for linear-width neural networks

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 (NeurIPS 2020)

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Zhou Fan, Zhichao Wang


We study the eigenvalue distributions of the Conjugate Kernel and Neural Tangent Kernel associated to multi-layer feedforward neural networks. In an asymptotic regime where network width is increasing linearly in sample size, under random initialization of the weights, and for input samples satisfying a notion of approximate pairwise orthogonality, we show that the eigenvalue distributions of the CK and NTK converge to deterministic limits. The limit for the CK is described by iterating the Marcenko-Pastur map across the hidden layers. The limit for the NTK is equivalent to that of a linear combination of the CK matrices across layers, and may be described by recursive fixed-point equations that extend this Marcenko-Pastur map. We demonstrate the agreement of these asymptotic predictions with the observed spectra for both synthetic and CIFAR-10 training data, and we perform a small simulation to investigate the evolutions of these spectra over training.