Computational Complexity of Learning Neural Networks: Smoothness and Degeneracy

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

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Amit Daniely, Nati Srebro, Gal Vardi


Understanding when neural networks can be learned efficientlyis a fundamental question in learning theory.Existing hardness results suggest that assumptions on both the input distribution and the network's weights are necessary for obtaining efficient algorithms. Moreover, it was previously shown that depth-$2$ networks can be efficiently learned under the assumptions that the input distribution is Gaussian, and the weight matrix is non-degenerate. In this work, we study whether such assumptions may suffice for learning deeper networks and prove negative results. We show that learning depth-$3$ ReLU networks under the Gaussian input distribution is hard even in the smoothed-analysis framework, where a random noise is added to the network's parameters. It implies that learning depth-$3$ ReLU networks under the Gaussian distribution is hard even if the weight matrices are non-degenerate. Moreover, we consider depth-$2$ networks, and show hardness of learning in the smoothed-analysis framework, where both the network parameters and the input distribution are smoothed. Our hardness results are under a well-studied assumption on the existence of local pseudorandom generators.