Dynamics in Deep Classifiers Trained with the Square Loss: Normalization, Low Rank, Neural Collapse, and Generalization Bounds

Mengjia Xu, Akshay Rangamani, Qianli Liao, Tomer Galanti, Tomaso Poggio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


We overview several properties—old and new—of training overparameterized deep networks under the square loss. We first consider a model of the dynamics of gradient flow under the square loss in deep homogeneous rectified linear unit networks. We study the convergence to a solution with the absolute minimum ρ, which is the product of the Frobenius norms of each layer weight matrix, when normalization by Lagrange multipliers is used together with weight decay under different forms of gradient descent. A main property of the minimizers that bound their expected error for a specific network architecture is ρ. In particular, we derive novel norm-based bounds for convolutional layers that are orders of magnitude better than classical bounds for dense networks. Next, we prove that quasi-interpolating solutions obtained by stochastic gradient descent in the presence of weight decay have a bias toward low-rank weight matrices, which should improve generalization. The same analysis predicts the existence of an inherent stochastic gradient descent noise for deep networks. In both cases, we verify our predictions experimentally. We then predict neural collapse and its properties without any specific assumption—unlike other published proofs. Our analysis supports the idea that the advantage of deep networks relative to other classifiers is greater for problems that are appropriate for sparse deep architectures such as convolutional neural networks. The reason is that compositionally sparse target functions can be approximated well by “sparse” deep networks without incurring in the curse of dimensionality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number0024
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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