The Curious Case of Benign MemorizationDownload PDF

Published: 01 Feb 2023, Last Modified: 23 Feb 2023ICLR 2023 posterReaders: Everyone
Abstract: Despite the empirical advances of deep learning across a variety of learning tasks, our theoretical understanding of its success is still very restricted. One of the key challenges is the overparametrized nature of modern models, enabling complete overfitting of the data even if the labels are randomized, i.e. networks can completely \textit{memorize} all given patterns. While such a memorization capacity seems worrisome, in this work we show that under training protocols that include \textit{data augmentation}, neural networks learn to memorize entirely random labels in a benign way, i.e. they learn embeddings that lead to highly non-trivial performance under nearest neighbour probing. We demonstrate that deep models have the surprising ability to separate noise from signal by distributing the task of memorization and feature learning to different layers. As a result, only the very last layers are used for memorization, while preceding layers encode performant features which remain largely unaffected by the label noise. We explore the intricate role of the augmentations used for training and identify a memorization-generalization trade-off in terms of their diversity, marking a clear distinction to all previous works. Finally, we give a first explanation for the emergence of benign memorization by showing that \textit{malign} memorization under data augmentation is infeasible due to the insufficient capacity of the model for the increased sample size. As a consequence, the network is forced to leverage the correlated nature of the augmentations and as a result learns meaningful features. To complete the picture, a better theory of feature learning in deep neural networks is required to fully understand the origins of this phenomenon.
Anonymous Url: I certify that there is no URL (e.g., github page) that could be used to find authors’ identity.
No Acknowledgement Section: I certify that there is no acknowledgement section in this submission for double blind review.
Code Of Ethics: I acknowledge that I and all co-authors of this work have read and commit to adhering to the ICLR Code of Ethics
Submission Guidelines: Yes
Please Choose The Closest Area That Your Submission Falls Into: Deep Learning and representational learning
Supplementary Material: zip
20 Replies