Learning From the Experience of Others: Approximate Empirical Bayes in Neural Networks

Han Zhao, Yao-Hung Hubert Tsai, Ruslan Salakhutdinov, Geoff Gordon

Sep 27, 2018 ICLR 2019 Conference Blind Submission readers: everyone Show Bibtex
  • Abstract: Learning deep neural networks could be understood as the combination of representation learning and learning halfspaces. While most previous work aims to diversify representation learning by data augmentations and regularizations, we explore the opposite direction through the lens of empirical Bayes method. Specifically, we propose a matrix-variate normal prior whose covariance matrix has a Kronecker product structure to capture the correlations in learning different neurons through backpropagation. The prior encourages neurons to learn from the experience of others, hence it provides an effective regularization when training large networks on small datasets. To optimize the model, we design an efficient block coordinate descent algorithm with analytic solutions. Empirically, we show that the proposed method helps the network converge to better local optima that also generalize better, and we verify the effectiveness of the approach on both multiclass classification and multitask regression problems with various network structures.
  • Keywords: Empirical Bayes, Bayesian Deep Learning
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