Joint Inference for Neural Network Depth and Dropout Regularization

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

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Kishan K C, Rui Li, MohammadMahdi Gilany


Dropout regularization methods prune a neural network's pre-determined backbone structure to avoid overfitting. However, a deep model still tends to be poorly calibrated with high confidence on incorrect predictions. We propose a unified Bayesian model selection method to jointly infer the most plausible network depth warranted by data, and perform dropout regularization simultaneously. In particular, to infer network depth we define a beta process over the number of hidden layers which allows it to go to infinity. Layer-wise activation probabilities induced by the beta process modulate neuron activation via binary vectors of a conjugate Bernoulli process. Experiments across domains show that by adapting network depth and dropout regularization to data, our method achieves superior performance comparing to state-of-the-art methods with well-calibrated uncertainty estimates. In continual learning, our method enables neural networks to dynamically evolve their depths to accommodate incrementally available data beyond their initial structures, and alleviate catastrophic forgetting.