27 Sep 2018 (modified: 21 Dec 2018)ICLR 2019 Conference Blind SubmissionReaders: Everyone
  • Abstract: Batch Normalization (BatchNorm) is an extremely useful component of modern neural network architectures, enabling optimization using higher learning rates and achieving faster convergence. In this paper, we use mean-field theory to analytically quantify the impact of BatchNorm on the geometry of the loss landscape for multi-layer networks consisting of fully-connected and convolutional layers. We show that it has a flattening effect on the loss landscape, as quantified by the maximum eigenvalue of the Fisher Information Matrix. These findings are then used to justify the use of larger learning rates for networks that use BatchNorm, and we provide quantitative characterization of the maximal allowable learning rate to ensure convergence. Experiments support our theoretically predicted maximum learning rate, and furthermore suggest that networks with smaller values of the BatchNorm parameter achieve lower loss after the same number of epochs of training.
  • Keywords: neural networks, optimization, batch normalization, mean field theory, Fisher information
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