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Deep Learning Through the Lens of Example Difficulty
Robert Baldock · Hartmut Maennel · Behnam Neyshabur

Tue Dec 07 08:30 AM -- 10:00 AM (PST) @

Existing work on understanding deep learning often employs measures that compress all data-dependent information into a few numbers. In this work, we adopt a perspective based on the role of individual examples. We introduce a measure of the computational difficulty of making a prediction for a given input: the (effective) prediction depth. Our extensive investigation reveals surprising yet simple relationships between the prediction depth of a given input and the model’s uncertainty, confidence, accuracy and speed of learning for that data point. We further categorize difficult examples into three interpretable groups, demonstrate how these groups are processed differently inside deep models and showcase how this understanding allows us to improve prediction accuracy. Insights from our study lead to a coherent view of a number of separately reported phenomena in the literature: early layers generalize while later layers memorize; early layers converge faster and networks learn easy data and simple functions first.

Author Information

Robert Baldock (Google)
Hartmut Maennel (Google)
Behnam Neyshabur (Google)

I am a staff research scientist at Google. Before that, I was a postdoctoral researcher at New York University and a member of Theoretical Machine Learning program at Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton. In summer 2017, I received a PhD in computer science at TTI-Chicago where I was fortunate to be advised by Nati Srebro.

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