Inner Product-based Neural Network Similarity

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Wei Chen, Zichen Miao, Qiang Qiu


Analyzing representational similarity among neural networks (NNs) is essential for interpreting or transferring deep models. In application scenarios where numerous NN models are learned, it becomes crucial to assess model similarities in computationally efficient ways. In this paper, we propose a new paradigm for reducing NN representational similarity to filter subspace distance. Specifically, when convolutional filters are decomposed as a linear combination of a set of filter subspace elements, denoted as filter atoms, and have those decomposed atom coefficients shared across networks, NN representational similarity can be significantly simplified as calculating the cosine distance among respective filter atoms, to achieve millions of times computation reduction over popular probing-based methods. We provide both theoretical and empirical evidence that such simplified filter subspace-based similarity preserves a strong linear correlation with other popular probing-based metrics, while being significantly more efficient to obtain and robust to probing data. We further validate the effectiveness of the proposed method in various application scenarios where numerous models exist, such as federated and continual learning as well as analyzing training dynamics. We hope our findings can help further explorations of real-time large-scale representational similarity analysis in neural networks.