Comparing Foundation Models using Data Kernels

9 May 2023  ·  Brandon Duderstadt, Hayden S. Helm, Carey E. Priebe ·

Recent advances in self-supervised learning and neural network scaling have enabled the creation of large models, known as foundation models, which can be easily adapted to a wide range of downstream tasks. The current paradigm for comparing foundation models involves evaluating them with aggregate metrics on various benchmark datasets. This method of model comparison is heavily dependent on the chosen evaluation metric, which makes it unsuitable for situations where the ideal metric is either not obvious or unavailable. In this work, we present a methodology for directly comparing the embedding space geometry of foundation models, which facilitates model comparison without the need for an explicit evaluation metric. Our methodology is grounded in random graph theory and enables valid hypothesis testing of embedding similarity on a per-datum basis. Further, we demonstrate how our methodology can be extended to facilitate population level model comparison. In particular, we show how our framework can induce a manifold of models equipped with a distance function that correlates strongly with several downstream metrics. We remark on the utility of this population level model comparison as a first step towards a taxonomic science of foundation models.

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