Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking in Deep Neural Networks


Nov 03, 2017 (modified: Nov 03, 2017) ICLR 2018 Conference Blind Submission readers: everyone Show Bibtex
  • Abstract: We propose a framework to understand the unprecedented performance and robustness of deep neural networks using field theory. Correlations between the weights within the same layer can be described by symmetries in that layer, and networks generalize better if such symmetries are broken to reduce the redundancies of the weights. Using a two parameter field theory, we find that the network can break such symmetries itself towards the end of training in a process commonly known in physics as spontaneous symmetry breaking. This corresponds to a network generalizing itself without any user input layers to break the symmetry, but by communication with adjacent layers. In the layer decoupling limit applicable to residual networks (He et al., 2015), we show that the remnant symmetries that survive the non-linear layers are spontaneously broken based on empirical results. The Lagrangian for the non-linear and weight layers together has striking similarities with the one in quantum field theory of a scalar. Using results from quantum field theory we show that our framework is able to explain many experimentally observed phenomena, such as training on random labels with zero error (Zhang et al., 2017), the information bottleneck and the phase transition out of it (Shwartz-Ziv & Tishby, 2017), shattered gradients (Balduzzi et al., 2017), and many more.
  • TL;DR: Closed form results for deep learning in the layer decoupling limit applicable to Residual Networks
  • Keywords: deep learning, physics, field theory