Friday, May 17, 2019

On Random Deep Weight-Tied Autoencoders: Exact Asymptotic Analysis, Phase Transitions, and Implications to Training

Abstract: We study the behavior of weight-tied multilayer vanilla autoencoders under the assumption of random weights. Via an exact characterization in the limit of large dimensions, our analysis reveals interesting phase transition phenomena when the depth becomes large. This, in particular, provides quantitative answers and insights to three questions that were yet fully understood in the literature. Firstly, we provide a precise answer on how the random deep weight-tied autoencoder model performs “approximate inference” as posed by Scellier et al. (2018), and its connection to reversibility considered by several theoretical studies. Secondly, we show that deep autoencoders display a higher degree of sensitivity to perturbations in the parameters, distinct from the shallow counterparts. Thirdly, we obtain insights on pitfalls in training initialization practice, and demonstrate experimentally that it is possible to train a deep autoencoder, even with the tanh activation and a depth as large as 200 layers, without resorting to techniques such as layer-wise pre-training or batch normalization. Our analysis is not specific to any depths or any Lipschitz activations, and our analytical techniques may have broader applicability.
The attendant video at ICLR is here and it starts at 52 minutes.

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