Provable Guarantees for Neural Networks via Gradient Feature Learning

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper


Zhenmei Shi, Junyi Wei, Yingyu Liang


Neural networks have achieved remarkable empirical performance, while the current theoretical analysis is not adequate for understanding their success, e.g., the Neural Tangent Kernel approach fails to capture their key feature learning ability, while recent analyses on feature learning are typically problem-specific. This work proposes a unified analysis framework for two-layer networks trained by gradient descent. The framework is centered around the principle of feature learning from gradients, and its effectiveness is demonstrated by applications in several prototypical problems, such as mixtures of Gaussians and parity functions.The framework also sheds light on interesting network learning phenomena such as feature learning beyond kernels and the lottery ticket hypothesis.