Generalized Shape Metrics on Neural Representations

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 pre-proceedings (NeurIPS 2021)

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Authors

Alex Williams, Erin Kunz, Simon Kornblith, Scott Linderman

Abstract

Understanding the operation of biological and artificial networks remains a difficult and important challenge. To identify general principles, researchers are increasingly interested in surveying large collections of networks that are trained on, or biologically adapted to, similar tasks. A standardized set of analysis tools is now needed to identify how network-level covariates---such as architecture, anatomical brain region, and model organism---impact neural representations (hidden layer activations). Here, we provide a rigorous foundation for these analyses by defining a broad family of metric spaces that quantify representational dissimilarity. Using this framework, we modify existing representational similarity measures based on canonical correlation analysis and centered kernel alignment to satisfy the triangle inequality, formulate a novel metric that respects the inductive biases in convolutional layers, and identify approximate Euclidean embeddings that enable network representations to be incorporated into essentially any off-the-shelf machine learning method. We demonstrate these methods on large-scale datasets from biology (Allen Institute Brain Observatory) and deep learning (NAS-Bench-101). In doing so, we identify relationships between neural representations that are interpretable in terms of anatomical features and model performance.