Understanding Deep Neural Networks with Rectified Linear Units

Raman Arora, Amitabh Basu, Poorya Mianjy, Anirbit Mukherjee

Feb 15, 2018 (modified: Feb 24, 2018) ICLR 2018 Conference Blind Submission readers: everyone Show Bibtex
  • Abstract: In this paper we investigate the family of functions representable by deep neural networks (DNN) with rectified linear units (ReLU). We give an algorithm to train a ReLU DNN with one hidden layer to {\em global optimality} with runtime polynomial in the data size albeit exponential in the input dimension. Further, we improve on the known lower bounds on size (from exponential to super exponential) for approximating a ReLU deep net function by a shallower ReLU net. Our gap theorems hold for smoothly parametrized families of ``hard'' functions, contrary to countable, discrete families known in the literature. An example consequence of our gap theorems is the following: for every natural number $k$ there exists a function representable by a ReLU DNN with $k^2$ hidden layers and total size $k^3$, such that any ReLU DNN with at most $k$ hidden layers will require at least $\frac12k^{k+1}-1$ total nodes. Finally, for the family of $\R^n\to \R$ DNNs with ReLU activations, we show a new lowerbound on the number of affine pieces, which is larger than previous constructions in certain regimes of the network architecture and most distinctively our lowerbound is demonstrated by an explicit construction of a \emph{smoothly parameterized} family of functions attaining this scaling. Our construction utilizes the theory of zonotopes from polyhedral theory.
  • TL;DR: This paper 1) characterizes functions representable by ReLU DNNs, 2) formally studies the benefit of depth in such architectures, 3) gives an algorithm to implement empirical risk minimization to global optimality for two layer ReLU nets.
  • Keywords: expressive power, benefits of depth, empirical risk minimization, global optimality, computational hardness, combinatorial optimization