Learning from Randomly Initialized Neural Network Features

13 Feb 2022  ·  Ehsan Amid, Rohan Anil, Wojciech Kotłowski, Manfred K. Warmuth ·

We present the surprising result that randomly initialized neural networks are good feature extractors in expectation. These random features correspond to finite-sample realizations of what we call Neural Network Prior Kernel (NNPK), which is inherently infinite-dimensional. We conduct ablations across multiple architectures of varying sizes as well as initializations and activation functions. Our analysis suggests that certain structures that manifest in a trained model are already present at initialization. Therefore, NNPK may provide further insight into why neural networks are so effective in learning such structures.

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