Benefits of Additive Noise in Composing Classes with Bounded Capacity

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 35 (NeurIPS 2022) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Alireza Fathollah Pour, Hassan Ashtiani


We observe that given two (compatible) classes of functions $\mathcal{F}$ and $\mathcal{H}$ with small capacity as measured by their uniform covering numbers, the capacity of the composition class $\mathcal{H} \circ \mathcal{F}$ can become prohibitively large or even unbounded. We then show that adding a small amount of Gaussian noise to the output of $\mathcal{F}$ before composing it with $\mathcal{H}$ can effectively control the capacity of $\mathcal{H} \circ \mathcal{F}$, offering a general recipe for modular design. To prove our results, we define new notions of uniform covering number of random functions with respect to the total variation and Wasserstein distances. We instantiate our results for the case of multi-layer sigmoid neural networks. Preliminary empirical results on MNIST dataset indicate that the amount of noise required to improve over existing uniform bounds can be numerically negligible (i.e., element-wise i.i.d. Gaussian noise with standard deviation $10^{-240}$)