Understanding Incremental Learning of Gradient Descent: A Fine-grained analysis of Matrix SensingDownload PDF

Published: 01 Feb 2023, Last Modified: 13 Feb 2023Submitted to ICLR 2023Readers: Everyone
Keywords: deep learning theory, incremental learning, non-convex optimization
Abstract: The implicit bias of optimization algorithms such as gradient descent (GD) is believed to play an important role in generalization of modern machine learning methods such as deep learning. This paper provides a fine-grained analysis of the dynamics of GD for the matrix sensing problem, whose goal is to recover a low-rank ground-truth matrix from near-isotropic linear measurements. With small initialization, we that GD behaves similarly to the greedy low-rank learning heuristics~\citep{li2020towards} and follows an incremental learning procedure~\citep{gissin2019implicit}. That is, GD sequentially learns solutions with increasing ranks until it recovers the ground-truth matrix. Compared to existing works which only analyze the first learning phase for rank-1 solutions, our result is stronger because it characterizes the whole learning process. Moreover, our analysis of the incremental learning procedure applies to the under-parameterized regime as well. As a key ingredient of our analysis, we observe that GD always follows an approximately low-rank trajectory and develops novel landscape properties for matrix sensing with low-rank parameterization. Finally, we conduct numerical experiments which confirm our theoretical findings.
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