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Poggio, Tomaso


On Invariance in Hierarchical Models

Neural Information Processing Systems

A goal of central importance in the study of hierarchical models for object recognition -- and indeed the visual cortex -- is that of understanding quantitatively the trade-off between invariance and selectivity, and how invariance and discrimination properties contribute towards providing an improved representation useful for learning from data. In this work we provide a general group-theoretic framework for characterizing and understanding invariance in a family of hierarchical models. We show that by taking an algebraic perspective, one can provide a concise set of conditions which must be met to establish invariance, as well as a constructive prescription for meeting those conditions. Analyses in specific cases of particular relevance to computer vision and text processing are given, yielding insight into how and when invariance can be achieved. We find that the minimal sets of transformations intrinsic to the hierarchical model needed to support a particular invariance can be clearly described, thereby encouraging efficient computational implementations.


Multiclass Learning with Simplex Coding

Neural Information Processing Systems

In this paper we dicuss a novel framework for multiclass learning, defined by a suitable coding/decoding strategy, namely the simplex coding, that allows to generalize to multiple classes a relaxation approach commonly used in binary classification. In this framework a relaxation error analysis can be developed avoiding constraints on the considered hypotheses class. Moreover, we show that in this setting it is possible to derive the first provably consistent regularized methods with training/tuning complexity which is {\em independent} to the number of classes. Tools from convex analysis are introduced that can be used beyond the scope of this paper. Papers published at the Neural Information Processing Systems Conference.


Learning Manifolds with K-Means and K-Flats

Neural Information Processing Systems

We study the problem of estimating a manifold from random samples. In particular, we consider piecewise constant and piecewise linear estimators induced by k-means and k-flats, and analyze their performance. We extend previous results for k-means in two separate directions. First, we provide new results for k-means reconstruction on manifolds and, secondly, we prove reconstruction bounds for higher-order approximation (k-flats), for which no known results were previously available. While the results for k-means are novel, some of the technical tools are well-established in the literature.


Why The Brain Separates Face Recognition From Object Recognition

Neural Information Processing Systems

Many studies have uncovered evidence that visual cortex contains specialized regions involved in processing faces but not other object classes. Recent electrophysiology studies of cells in several of these specialized regions revealed that at least some of these regions are organized in a hierarchical manner with viewpoint-specific cells projecting to downstream viewpoint-invariant identity-specific cells (Freiwald and Tsao 2010). A separate computational line of reasoning leads to the claim that some transformations of visual inputs that preserve viewed object identity are class-specific. In particular, the 2D images evoked by a face undergoing a 3D rotation are not produced by the same image transformation (2D) that would produce the images evoked by an object of another class undergoing the same 3D rotation. However, within the class of faces, knowledge of the image transformation evoked by 3D rotation can be reliably transferred from previously viewed faces to help identify a novel face at a new viewpoint.


Learning invariant representations and applications to face verification

Neural Information Processing Systems

One approach to computer object recognition and modeling the brain's ventral stream involves unsupervised learning of representations that are invariant to common transformations. However, applications of these ideas have usually been limited to 2D affine transformations, e.g., translation and scaling, since they are easiest to solve via convolution. In accord with a recent theory of transformation-invariance, we propose a model that, while capturing other common convolutional networks as special cases, can also be used with arbitrary identity-preserving transformations. The model's wiring can be learned from videos of transforming objects---or any other grouping of images into sets by their depicted object. Through a series of successively more complex empirical tests, we study the invariance/discriminability properties of this model with respect to different transformations.


Neural representation of action sequences: how far can a simple snippet-matching model take us?

Neural Information Processing Systems

The macaque Superior Temporal Sulcus (STS) is a brain area that receives and integrates inputs from both the ventral and dorsal visual processing streams (thought to specialize in form and motion processing respectively). For the processing of articulated actions, prior work has shown that even a small population of STS neurons contains sufficient information for the decoding of actor invariant to action, action invariant to actor, as well as the specific conjunction of actor and action. This paper addresses two questions. First, what are the invariance properties of individual neural representations (rather than the population representation) in STS? Second, what are the neural encoding mechanisms that can produce such individual neural representations from streams of pixel images?


Double descent in the condition number

arXiv.org Machine Learning

In solving a system of $n$ linear equations in $d$ variables $Ax=b$, the condition number of the $n,d$ matrix $A$ measures how much errors in the data $b$ affect the solution $x$. Bounds of this type are important in many inverse problems. An example is machine learning where the key task is to estimate an underlying function from a set of measurements at random points in a high dimensional space and where low sensitivity to error in the data is a requirement for good predictive performance. Here we discuss the simple observation, which is well-known but surprisingly little quoted that when the columns of $A$ are random vectors, the condition number of $A$ is highest if $d=n$, that is when the inverse of $A$ exists. An overdetermined system ($n>d$) as well as an underdetermined system ($n


Theoretical Issues in Deep Networks: Approximation, Optimization and Generalization

arXiv.org Machine Learning

While deep learning is successful in a number of applications, it is not yet well understood theoretically. A satisfactory theoretical characterization of deep learning however, is beginning to emerge. It covers the following questions: 1) representation power of deep networks 2) optimization of the empirical risk 3) generalization properties of gradient descent techniques --- why the expected error does not suffer, despite the absence of explicit regularization, when the networks are overparametrized? In this review we discuss recent advances in the three areas. In approximation theory both shallow and deep networks have been shown to approximate any continuous functions on a bounded domain at the expense of an exponential number of parameters (exponential in the dimensionality of the function). However, for a subset of compositional functions, deep networks of the convolutional type can have a linear dependence on dimensionality, unlike shallow networks. In optimization we discuss the loss landscape for the exponential loss function and show that stochastic gradient descent will find with high probability the global minima. To address the question of generalization for classification tasks, we use classical uniform convergence results to justify minimizing a surrogate exponential-type loss function under a unit norm constraint on the weight matrix at each layer -- since the interesting variables for classification are the weight directions rather than the weights. Our approach, which is supported by several independent new results, offers a solution to the puzzle about generalization performance of deep overparametrized ReLU networks, uncovering the origin of the underlying hidden complexity control.


Theory III: Dynamics and Generalization in Deep Networks

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

We review recent observations on the dynamical systems induced by gradient descent methods used for training deep networks and summarize properties of the solutions they converge to. Recent results illuminate the absence of overfitting in the special case of linear networks for binary classification. They prove that minimization of loss functions such as the logistic, the cross-entropy and the exponential loss yields asymptotic convergence to the maximum margin solution for linearly separable datasets, independently of the initial conditions. Here we discuss the case of nonlinear DNNs near zero minima of the empirical loss, under exponential-type and square losses, for several variations of the basic gradient descent algorithm, including a new NMGD (norm minimizing gradient descent) version that converges to the minimum norm fixed points of the gradient descent iteration. Our main results are: 1) gradient descent algorithms with weight normalization constraint achieve generalization; 2) the fundamental reason for the effectiveness of existing weight normalization and batch normalization techniques is that they are approximate implementations of maximizing the margin under unit norm constraint; 3) without unit norm constraints some level of generalization can still be obtained for not-too-deep networks because the balance of the weights across different layers, if present at initialization, is maintained by the gradient flow. In the perspective of these theoretical results, we discuss experimental evidence around the apparent absence of overfitting, that is the observation that the expected classification error does not get worse when increasing the number of parameters. Our explanation focuses on the implicit normalization enforced by algorithms such as batch normalization. In particular, the control of the norm of the weights is related to Halpern iterations for minimum norm solutions.


Biologically-plausible learning algorithms can scale to large datasets

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

The backpropagation (BP) algorithm is often thought to be biologically implausible in the brain. One of the main reasons is that BP requires symmetric weight matrices in the feedforward and feedback pathways. To address this "weight transport problem" (Grossberg, 1987), two more biologically plausible algorithms, proposed by Liao et al. (2016) and Lillicrap et al. (2016), relax BP's weight symmetry requirements and demonstrate comparable learning capabilities to that of BP on small datasets. However, a recent study by Bartunov et al. (2018) evaluate variants of target-propagation (TP) and feedback alignment (FA) on MINIST, CIFAR, and ImageNet datasets, and find that although many of the proposed algorithms perform well on MNIST and CIFAR, they perform significantly worse than BP on ImageNet. Here, we additionally evaluate the sign-symmetry algorithm (Liao et al., 2016), which differs from both BP and FA in that the feedback and feedforward weights share signs but not magnitudes. We examine the performance of sign-symmetry and feedback alignment on ImageNet and MS COCO datasets using different network architectures (ResNet-18 and AlexNet for ImageNet, RetinaNet for MS COCO). Surprisingly, networks trained with sign-symmetry can attain classification performance approaching that of BP-trained networks. These results complement the study by Bartunov et al. (2018), and establish a new benchmark for future biologically plausible learning algorithms on more difficult datasets and more complex architectures. This material is based upon work supported by the Center for Brains, Minds and Machines (CBMM), funded by NSF STC award CCF-1231216.