Keywords: residual network, iterative inference, deep learning
TL;DR: Residual connections really perform iterative inference
Abstract: Residual networks (Resnets) have become a prominent architecture in deep learning. However, a comprehensive understanding of Resnets is still a topic of ongoing research. A recent view argues that Resnets perform iterative refinement of features. We attempt to further expose properties of this aspect. To this end, we study Resnets both analytically and empirically. We formalize the notion of iterative refinement in Resnets by showing that residual architectures naturally encourage features to move along the negative gradient of loss during the feedforward phase. In addition, our empirical analysis suggests that Resnets are able to perform both representation learning and iterative refinement. In general, a Resnet block tends to concentrate representation learning behavior in the first few layers while higher layers perform iterative refinement of features. Finally we observe that sharing residual layers naively leads to representation explosion and hurts generalization performance, and show that simple existing strategies can help alleviating this problem.
Data: [CIFAR-10](https://paperswithcode.com/dataset/cifar-10), [CIFAR-100](https://paperswithcode.com/dataset/cifar-100)