Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 35 (NeurIPS 2022) Main Conference Track
Lechao Xiao, Hong Hu, Theodor Misiakiewicz, Yue Lu, Jeffrey Pennington
As modern machine learning models continue to advance the computational frontier, it has become increasingly important to develop precise estimates for expected performance improvements under different model and data scaling regimes. Currently, theoretical understanding of the learning curves that characterize how the prediction error depends on the number of samples is restricted to either large-sample asymptotics ($m\to\infty$) or, for certain simple data distributions, to the high-dimensional asymptotics in which the number of samples scales linearly with the dimension ($m\propto d$). There is a wide gulf between these two regimes, including all higher-order scaling relations $m\propto d^r$, which are the subject of the present paper. We focus on the problem of kernel ridge regression for dot-product kernels and present precise formulas for the mean of the test error, bias, and variance, for data drawn uniformly from the sphere with isotropic random labels in the $r$th-order asymptotic scaling regime $m\to\infty$ with $m/d^r$ held constant. We observe a peak in the learning curve whenever $m \approx d^r/r!$ for any integer $r$, leading to multiple sample-wise descent and nontrivial behavior at multiple scales. We include a colab notebook that reproduces the essential results of the paper.