Analysis of Alignment Phenomenon in Simple Teacher-student Networks with Finite Width

1 Jan 2021  ·  Hanlin Zhu, Chengyang Ying, Song Zuo ·

Recent theoretical analysis suggests that ultra-wide neural networks always converge to global minima near the initialization under first order methods. However, the convergence property of neural networks with finite width could be very different. The simplest experiment with two-layer teacher-student networks shows that the input weights of student neurons eventually align with one of the teacher neurons. This suggests a distinct convergence nature for ``not-too-wide'' neural networks that there might not be any local minima near the initialization. As the theoretical justification, we prove that under the most basic settings, all student neurons must align with the teacher neuron at any local minima. The methodology is extendable to more general cases, where the proof can be reduced to analyzing the properties of a special class of functions that we call {\em Angular Distance (AD) function}. Finally, we demonstrate that these properties can be easily verified numerically.

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