From Stability to Chaos: Analyzing Gradient Descent Dynamics in Quadratic Regression

Published: 30 Apr 2024, Last Modified: 30 Apr 2024Accepted by TMLREveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
Abstract: We conduct a comprehensive investigation into the dynamics of gradient descent using large-order constant step-sizes in the context of quadratic regression models. Within this framework, we reveal that the dynamics can be encapsulated by a specific cubic map, naturally parameterized by the step-size. Through a fine-grained bifurcation analysis concerning the step-size parameter, we delineate five distinct training phases: (1) monotonic, (2) catapult, (3) periodic, (4) chaotic, and (5) divergent, precisely demarcating the boundaries of each phase. As illustrations, we provide examples involving phase retrieval and two-layer neural networks employing quadratic activation functions and constant outer-layers, utilizing orthogonal training data. Our simulations indicate that these five phases also manifest with generic non-orthogonal data. We also empirically investigate the generalization performance when training in the various non-monotonic (and non-divergent) phases. In particular, we observe that performing an ergodic trajectory averaging stabilizes the test error in non-monotonic (and non-divergent) phases.
Submission Length: Regular submission (no more than 12 pages of main content)
Supplementary Material: zip
Assigned Action Editor: ~Jeffrey_Pennington1
Submission Number: 2023