Sparse approximation in learning via neural ODEs

02/26/2021 ∙ by Carlos Esteve Yagüe, et al. ∙ 0

We consider the continuous-time, neural ordinary differential equation (neural ODE) perspective of deep supervised learning, and study the impact of the final time horizon T in training. We focus on a cost consisting of an integral of the empirical risk over the time interval, and L^1–parameter regularization. Under homogeneity assumptions on the dynamics (typical for ReLU activations), we prove that any global minimizer is sparse, in the sense that there exists a positive stopping time T^* beyond which the optimal parameters vanish. Moreover, under appropriate interpolation assumptions on the neural ODE, we provide quantitative estimates of the stopping time T^∗, and of the training error of the trajectories at the stopping time. The latter stipulates a quantitative approximation property of neural ODE flows with sparse parameters. In practical terms, a shorter time-horizon in the training problem can be interpreted as considering a shallower residual neural network (ResNet), and since the optimal parameters are concentrated over a shorter time horizon, such a consideration may lower the computational cost of training without discarding relevant information.

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