On the Expressive Power of Deep Architectures


Deep architectures are families of functions corresponding to deep circuits. Deep Learning algorithms are based on parametrizing such circuits and tuning their parameters so as to approximately optimize some training objective. Whereas it was thought too difficult to train deep architectures, several successful algorithms have been proposed in recent years. We review some of the theoretical motivations for deep architectures, as well as some of their practical successes, and propose directions of investigations to address some of the remaining challenges. 1 Learning Artificial Intelligence An intelligent agent takes good decisions. In order to do so it needs some form of knowledge. Knowledge can be embodied into a function that maps inputs and states to states and actions. If we saw an agent that always took what one would consider as the good decisions, we would qualify the agent as intelligent. Knowledge can be explicit, as in the form of symbolically expressed rules and facts of expert systems, or in the form of linguistic statements in an encyclopedia. However, knowledge can also be implicit, as in the complicated wiring and synaptic strengths of animal brains, or even in the mechanical properties of an animal’s body. Whereas Artificial Intelligence (AI) research initially focused on providing computers with knowledge in explicit form, it turned out that much of our knowledge was not easy to express formally. What is a chair? We might write a definition that can help another human understand the concept (if he did not know about it), but it is difficult to make it sufficiently complete for a computer to translate into the same level of competence (e.g. in recognizing chairs in images). Much so-called common-sense knowledge has this property. If we cannot endowe computers with all the required knowledge, an alternative is to let them learn it from examples. Machine learning algorithms aim to extract knowledge from examples (i.e., data), so as to be able to properly generalize to new examples. Our own implicit knowledge arises either out of our life experiences (lifetime learning) or from the longer scale form of learning that evolution really represents, where the result of adaptation is encoded in the genes. Science itself is a process of learning from observations and experiments in order to produce actionable knowledge. Understanding the principles by which agents can capture knowledge through examples, i.e., learn, is therefore a central scientific question with implications not only for AI and technology, but also to understand brains and evolution. Formally, a learning algorithm can be seen as a functional that maps a dataset (a set of examples) to a function (typically, a decision function). Since the dataset is itself a random variable, the learning process involves the application of a procedure to a target distribution from which the examples are drawn and for which one would like to infer a good decision function. Many modern learning algorithms are expressed as an optimization problem, in which one tries to find a compromise between minimizing empirical error on training examples and minimizing a proxy for the richness of the family of functions that contains the solution. A particular challenge of learning algorithms for AI tasks (such as understanding images, video, natural language text, or speech) is that such tasks involve a large number of variables with complex dependencies, and that the amount of knowledge required to master these tasks is very large. Statistical learning theory teaches us that in order to represent a large body of knowledge, one requires a correspondingly large number of degrees of freedom (or richness of a class of functions) and a correspondingly large number of training examples. In addition to the statistical challenge, machine learning often involves a computational challenge due to the difficulty of optimizing the training criterion. Indeed, in many cases, that training criterion is not convex, and in some cases it is not even directly measurable in a deterministic way and its gradient is estimated by stochastic (sampling-based) methods, and from only a few examples at a time (online learning). One of the characteristics that has spurred much interest and research in recent years is depth of the architecture. In the case of a multi-layer neural network, depth corresponds to the number of (hidden and output) layers. A fixed-kernel Support Vector Machine is considered to have depth 2 (Bengio and LeCun, 2007a) and boosted decision trees to have depth 3 (Bengio et al., 2010). Here we use the word circuit or network to talk about a directed acyclic graph, where each node is associated with some output value which can be computed based on the values associated with its predecessor nodes. The arguments of the learned function are set at the input nodes of the circuit (which have no predecessor) and the outputs of the function are read off the output nodes of the circuit. Different families of functions correspond to different circuits and allowed choices of computations in each node. Learning can be performed by changing the computation associated with a node, or rewiring the circuit (possibly changing the number of nodes). The depth of the circuit is the length of the longest path in the graph from an input node to an output node. This paper also focuses on Deep Learning, i.e., learning multiple levels of representation. The intent is to discover more abstract features in the higher levels of the representation, which hopefully make it easier to separate from each other the various explanatory factors extent in the data. Theoretical results (Yao, 1985; H̊astad, 1986; H̊astad and Goldmann, 1991; Bengio et al., 2006; Bengio and Delalleau, 2011; Braverman, 2011), reviewed briefly here (see also a previous discussion by Bengio and LeCun, 2007b) suggest that in order to learn the kind of complicated functions that can represent high-level abstractions (e.g., in vision, language, and other AI-level tasks) associated with functions with many variations but an underlying simpler structure, one may need deep architectures. The recent surge in experimental work in the field seems to support this notion, accumulating evidence that in challenging AI-related tasks – such as computer vision (Bengio et al., 2007; Ranzato et al., 2007; Larochelle et al., 2007; Ranzato et al., 2008; Lee et al., 2009; Mobahi et al., 2009; Osindero and Hinton, 2008), natural language processing (NLP) (Collobert and Weston, 2008a; Weston et al., 2008), robotics (Hadsell et al., 2008), or information retrieval (Salakhutdinov and Hinton, 2007; Salakhutdinov et al., 2007) – deep learning methods significantly out-perform comparable but shallow competitors (e.g. winning the Unsupervised and Transfer Learning Challenge; Mesnil et al., 2011), and often match or beat the state-of-the-art. In this paper we discuss some of the theoretical motivations for deep architectures, and quickly review some of the current layer-wise unsupervised featurelearning algorithms used to train them. We conclude with a discussion of principles involved, challenges ahead, and ideas to face them. 2 Local and Non-Local Generalization: The Challenge and Curse of Many Factors of Variation How can learning algorithms generalize from training examples to new cases? It can be shown that there are no completely universal learning procedures, in the sense that for any learning procedure, there is a target distribution on which it does poorly (Wolpert, 1996). Hence, all generalization principles exploit some property of the target distribution, i.e., some kind of prior. The most exploited generalization principle is that of local generalization. It relies on a smoothness assumption, i.e., that the target function (the function to be learned) is smooth (according to some measure of smoothness), i.e., changes slowly and rarely (Barron, 1993). Contrary to what has often been said, what mainly hurts many algorithms relying only on this assumption (pretty much all of the nonparametric statistical learning algorithms) is not the dimensionality of the input but instead the insufficient smoothness of the target function. To make a simple picture, imagine the supervised learning framework and a target function that is locally smooth but has many ups and downs in the domain of interest. We showed that if one considers a straight line in the input domain, and counts the number of ups and downs along that line, then a learner based purely on local generalization (such as a Gaussian kernel machine) requires at least as many examples as there are ups and downs (Bengio et al., 2006). Manifold learning algorithms are unsupervised learning procedures aiming to characterize a low-dimensional manifold near which the target distribution concentrates. Bengio and Monperrus (2005) argued that many real-world manifolds (such as the one generated by translations or rotations of images, when the image is represented by its pixel intensities) are highly curved (translating by 1 1 but of course additional noisy dimensions, although they do not change smoothness of the target function, require more examples to cancel the noise. pixel can change the tangent plane of the manifold by about 90 degrees). The manifold learning algorithms of the day, based implicitly or explicitly on nonparametric estimation of the local tangent planes to the manifold, are relying on purely local generalization. Hence they would require a number of examples that grows linearly with the dimension d of the manifold and the number of patches O ( D r )d needed to cover its nooks and crannies, i.e., in O ( d ( D r )d) examples, where D is a diameter of the domain of interest and r a radius of curvature. 3 Expressive Power of Deep Architectures To fight an exponential, it seems reasonable to arm oneself with other exponentials. We discuss two strategies that can bring a potentially exponential statistical gain thanks to a combinatorial effect: distributed (possibly sparse) representations and depth of architecture. We also present an example of the latter in more details in the specific case of so-called sum-product networks. 3.1 Distributed and Sparse Representations Learning algorithms based on local generalization can generally be interpreted as creating a number of local regions (possibly overlapping, possibly with soft rather than hard boundaries), such that each region is associated with its own degrees of freedom (parameters, or examples such as prototypes). Such learning algorithms can then learn to discriminate between these regions, i.e., provide a different response in each region (and possibly doing some form of smooth interpolation when the regions overlap or have soft boundaries). Examples of such algorithms include the mixture of Gaussians (for density estimation), Gaussian kernel machines (for all kinds of tasks), ordinary clustering (such as k-means, agglomerative clustering or affinity propagation), decision trees, nearest-neighbor and Parzen windows estimators, etc... As discussed in previous work (Bengio et al., 2010), all of these algorithms will generalize well only to the extent that there are enough examples to cover all the regions that need to be distinguished from each other. As an example of such algorithms, the way a clustering algorithm or a nearestneighbor algorithm could partition the input space is shown on the left side of Fig. 1. Instead, the right side of the figure shows how an algorithm based on distributed representations (such as a Restricted Boltzmann Machine; Hinton et al., 2006) could partition the input space. Each binary hidden variable identifies on which side of a hyper-plane the current input lies, thus breaking out input space in a number of regions that could be exponential in the number of hidden units (because one only needs a few examples to learn where to put each hyper-plane), i.e., in the number of parameters. If one assigns a binary code to each region, this is also a form of clustering, which has been called multi-clustering (Bengio, 2009). Distributed representations were put forward in the early days of connectionism and artificial neural networks (Hinton, 1986, 1989). More recently, a

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-24477-3_1
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@inproceedings{Bengio2011OnTE, title={On the Expressive Power of Deep Architectures}, author={Yoshua Bengio and Olivier Delalleau}, booktitle={Discovery Science}, year={2011} }