Distributionally Robust Optimization Leads to Better Generalization: on SGD and Beyond

Jikai Hou, Kaixuan Huang, Zhihua Zhang

Sep 27, 2018 ICLR 2019 Conference Blind Submission readers: everyone Show Bibtex
  • Abstract: In this paper, we adopt distributionally robust optimization (DRO) (Ben-Tal et al., 2013) in hope to achieve a better generalization in deep learning tasks. We establish the generalization guarantees and analyze the localized Rademacher complexity for DRO, and conduct experiments to show that DRO obtains a better performance. We reveal the profound connection between SGD and DRO, i.e., selecting a batch can be viewed as choosing a distribution over the training set. From this perspective, we prove that SGD is prone to escape from bad stationary points and small batch SGD outperforms large batch SGD. We give an upper bound for the robust loss when SGD converges and keeps stable. We propose a novel Weighted SGD (WSGD) algorithm framework, which assigns high-variance weights to the data of the current batch. We devise a practical implement of WSGD that can directly optimize the robust loss. We test our algorithm on CIFAR-10 and CIFAR-100, and WSGD achieves significant improvements over the conventional SGD.
  • Keywords: distributionally robust optimization, deep learning, SGD, learning theory
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