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Workshop: Mathematics of Modern Machine Learning (M3L)

Near-Interpolators: Fast Norm Growth and Tempered Near-Overfitting

Yutong Wang · Rishi Sonthalia · Wei Hu

Abstract: We study linear regression when the input data populationcovariance matrix has eigenvalues $\lambda_i \sim i^{-\alpha}$ where $\alpha > 1$.Under a generic random matrix theory assumption, we provethat any near-interpolator, i.e., ${\beta}$ whose training error is below the noise floor, must have its squared $\ell_2$-norm growing super-linearly with the number of samples $n$:$\|{\beta}\|_{2}^{2} = \Omega(n^{\alpha})$. This implies that existing norm-based generalization bounds increase as the number of samples increases, matching the empirical observations from prior work.On the other hand, such near-interpolators when properly tuned achieve good generalization, where the test errors approach arbitrarily close to the noise floor.Our work demonstrates that existing norm-based generalization bounds are vacuous for explainingthe generalization capability of \emph{any} near-interpolators.Moreover, we show that the trade-off between train and test accuracy is better when the norm growth exponential is smaller.

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