Neural tangent kernels, transportation mappings, and universal approximationDownload PDF

Sep 25, 2019 (edited Mar 11, 2020)ICLR 2020 Conference Blind SubmissionReaders: Everyone
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  • TL;DR: The NTK linearization is a universal approximator, even when looking arbitrarily close to initialization
  • Abstract: This paper establishes rates of universal approximation for the shallow neural tangent kernel (NTK): network weights are only allowed microscopic changes from random initialization, which entails that activations are mostly unchanged, and the network is nearly equivalent to its linearization. Concretely, the paper has two main contributions: a generic scheme to approximate functions with the NTK by sampling from transport mappings between the initial weights and their desired values, and the construction of transport mappings via Fourier transforms. Regarding the first contribution, the proof scheme provides another perspective on how the NTK regime arises from rescaling: redundancy in the weights due to resampling allows individual weights to be scaled down. Regarding the second contribution, the most notable transport mapping asserts that roughly $1 / \delta^{10d}$ nodes are sufficient to approximate continuous functions, where $\delta$ depends on the continuity properties of the target function. By contrast, nearly the same proof yields a bound of $1 / \delta^{2d}$ for shallow ReLU networks; this gap suggests a tantalizing direction for future work, separating shallow ReLU networks and their linearization.
  • Keywords: Neural Tangent Kernel, universal approximation, Barron, transport mapping
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