- Keywords: noise, optimization, loss landscape, Hessian
- TL;DR: This paper shows that for overparameterized networks with a degenerate valley in their loss landscape, SGD on average decreases the trace of the Hessian of the loss and generalizes this result to other noise structures.
- Abstract: Stochastic gradient descent (SGD) forms the core optimization method for deep neural networks. While some theoretical progress has been made, it still remains unclear why SGD leads the learning dynamics in overparameterized networks to solutions that generalize well. Here we show that for overparameterized networks with a degenerate valley in their loss landscape, SGD on average decreases the trace of the Hessian of the loss. We also generalize this result to other noise structures and show that isotropic noise in the non-degenerate subspace of the Hessian decreases its determinant. In addition to explaining SGDs role in sculpting the Hessian spectrum, this opens the door to new optimization approaches that may confer better generalization performance. We test our results with experiments on toy models and deep neural networks.