Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 35 (NeurIPS 2022) Main Conference Track
Nisha Chandramoorthy, Andreas Loukas, Khashayar Gatmiry, Stefanie Jegelka
Generalization analyses of deep learning typically assume that the training converges to a fixed point. But, recent results indicate that in practice, the weights of deep neural networks optimized with stochastic gradient descent often oscillate indefinitely. To reduce this discrepancy between theory and practice, this paper focuses on the generalization of neural networks whose training dynamics do not necessarily converge to fixed points. Our main contribution is to propose a notion of statistical algorithmic stability (SAS) that extends classical algorithmic stability to non-convergent algorithms and to study its connection to generalization. This ergodic-theoretic approach leads to new insights when compared to the traditional optimization and learning theory perspectives. We prove that the stability of the time-asymptotic behavior of a learning algorithm relates to its generalization and empirically demonstrate how loss dynamics can provide clues to generalization performance. Our findings provide evidence that networks that ``train stably generalize better'' even when the training continues indefinitely and the weights do not converge.