Logarithmic landscape and power-law escape rate of SGD

29 Sep 2021  ·  Takashi Mori, Liu Ziyin, Kangqiao Liu, Masahito Ueda ·

Stochastic gradient descent (SGD) undergoes complicated multiplicative noise for the mean-square loss. We use this property of the SGD noise to derive a stochastic differential equation (SDE) with simpler additive noise by performing a random time change. In the SDE, the loss gradient is replaced by the logarithmized loss gradient. By using this formalism, we obtain the escape rate formula from a local minimum, which is determined not by the loss barrier height $\Delta L=L(\theta^s)-L(\theta^*)$ between a minimum $\theta^*$ and a saddle $\theta^s$ but by the logarithmized loss barrier height $\Delta\log L=\log[L(\theta^s)/L(\theta^*)]$. Our escape-rate formula strongly depends on the typical magnitude $h^*$ and the number $n$ of the outlier eigenvalues of the Hessian. This result explains an empirical fact that SGD prefers flat minima with low effective dimensions, which gives an insight into implicit biases of SGD.

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