Batch Normalization Orthogonalizes Representations in Deep Random Networks

Hadi Daneshmand · Amir Joudaki · Francis Bach

This paper underlines an elegant property of batch-normalization (BN): Successive batch normalizations with random linear updates make samples increasingly orthogonal. We establish a non-asymptotic characterization of the interplay between depth, width, and the orthogonality of deep representations. More precisely, we prove, under a mild assumption, the deviation of the representations from orthogonality rapidly decays with depth up to a term inversely proportional to the network width. This result has two main theoretical and practical implications: 1) Theoretically, as the depth grows, the distribution of the outputs contracts to a Wasserstein-2 ball around an isotropic normal distribution. Furthermore, the radius of this Wasserstein ball shrinks with the width of the network. 2) Practically, the orthogonality of the representations directly influences the performance of stochastic gradient descent (SGD). When representations are initially aligned, we observe SGD wastes many iterations to disentangle representations before the classification. Nevertheless, we experimentally show that starting optimization from orthogonal representations is sufficient to accelerate SGD, with no need for BN.

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