Collegial Ensembles

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 (NeurIPS 2020)

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Etai Littwin, Ben Myara, Sima Sabah, Joshua Susskind, Shuangfei Zhai, Oren Golan


<p>Modern neural network performance typically improves as model size increases. A recent line of research on the Neural Tangent Kernel (NTK) of over-parameterized networks indicates that the improvement with size increase is a product of a better conditioned loss landscape. In this work, we investigate a form of over-parameterization achieved through ensembling, where we define collegial ensembles (CE) as the aggregation of multiple independent models with identical architectures, trained as a single model. We show that the optimization dynamics of CE simplify dramatically when the number of models in the ensemble is large, resembling the dynamics of wide models, yet scale much more favorably. We use recent theoretical results on the finite width corrections of the NTK to perform efficient architecture search in a space of finite width CE that aims to either minimize capacity, or maximize trainability under a set of constraints. The resulting ensembles can be efficiently implemented in practical architectures using group convolutions and block diagonal layers. Finally, we show how our framework can be used to analytically derive optimal group convolution modules originally found using expensive grid searches, without having to train a single model.</p>