In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper

The Influence of Learning Rule on Representation Dynamics in Wide Neural Networks

Blake Bordelon · Cengiz Pehlevan

MH1-2-3-4 #69

Keywords: [ Deep Learning and representational learning ] [ deep learning theory ] [ representations ] [ learning rules ]


It is unclear how changing the learning rule of a deep neural network alters its learning dynamics and representations. To gain insight into the relationship between learned features, function approximation, and the learning rule, we analyze infinite-width deep networks trained with gradient descent (GD) and biologically-plausible alternatives including feedback alignment (FA), direct feedback alignment (DFA), and error modulated Hebbian learning (Hebb), as well as gated linear networks (GLN). We show that, for each of these learning rules, the evolution of the output function at infinite width is governed by a time varying effective neural tangent kernel (eNTK). In the lazy training limit, this eNTK is static and does not evolve, while in the rich mean-field regime this kernel's evolution can be determined self-consistently with dynamical mean field theory (DMFT). This DMFT enables comparisons of the feature and prediction dynamics induced by each of these learning rules. In the lazy limit, we find that DFA and Hebb can only learn using the last layer features, while full FA can utilize earlier layers with a scale determined by the initial correlation between feedforward and feedback weight matrices. In the rich regime, DFA and FA utilize a temporally evolving and depth-dependent NTK. Counterintuitively, we find that FA networks trained in the rich regime exhibit more feature learning if initialized with smaller correlation between the forward and backward pass weights. GLNs admit a very simple formula for their lazy limit kernel and preserve conditional Gaussianity of their preactivations under gating functions. Error modulated Hebb rules show very small task-relevant alignment of their kernels and perform most task relevant learning in the last layer.

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