Abstract: Deep networks trained for classification exhibit class-selective neurons in intermediate layers. Intriguingly, recent studies have shown that class-selective neurons are not strictly necessary for network function. But if class-selective neurons are not necessary, why do they exist? We attempt to answer this question in a series of experiments on ResNet-50 trained on ImageNet. We begin by showing that class-selective neurons emerge in the first few epochs of training before receding rapidly. Single-neuron ablation experiments show that class-selective neurons are important for network function during this early phase of training. The network is close to a linear regime during this early training phase, which may explain the emergence of these class-selective neurons in intermediate layers. Finally, by regularizing against class selectivity at different points in training, we show that the emergence of these class-selective neurons during the first few epochs of training is essential to the successful training of the network. Altogether, our results indicate that class-selective neurons in intermediate layers are vestigial remains of early epochs of training, during which they appear as quasi-linear shortcut solutions to the classification task which are essential to the successful training of the network.
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Please Choose The Closest Area That Your Submission Falls Into: Deep Learning and representational learning