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In-Person Oral presentation / top 5% paper

A Kernel Perspective of Skip Connections in Convolutional Networks

Daniel Barzilai · Amnon Geifman · Meirav Galun · Ronen Basri



Over-parameterized residual networks (ResNets) are amongst the most successful convolutional neural architectures for image processing. Here we study their properties through their Gaussian Process and Neural Tangent kernels. We derive explicit formulas for these kernels, analyze their spectra, and provide bounds on their implied condition numbers. Our results indicate that (1) with ReLU activation, the eigenvalues of these residual kernels decay polynomially at a similar rate compared to the same kernels when skip connections are not used, thus maintaining a similar frequency bias; (2) however, residual kernels are more locally biased. Our analysis further shows that the matrices obtained by these residual kernels yield favorable condition numbers at finite depths than those obtained without the skip connections, enabling therefore faster convergence of training with gradient descent.

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