Skip to yearly menu bar Skip to main content

Workshop: Symmetry and Geometry in Neural Representations

Towards Information Theory-Based Discovery of Equivariances

Hippolyte Charvin · Nicola Catenacci Volpi · Daniel Polani


The presence of symmetries imposes a stringent set of constraints on a system. This constrained structure allows intelligent agents interacting with such a system to drastically improve the efficiency of learning and generalization, through the internalisation of the system's symmetries into their information-processing. In parallel, principled models of complexity-constrained learning and behaviour make increasing use of information-theoretic methods. Here, we wish to marry these two perspectives and understand whether and in which form the information-theoretic lens can ``see'' the effect of symmetries of a system. For this purpose, we propose a novel variant of the Information Bottleneck principle, which has served as a productive basis for many principled studies of learning and information-constrained adaptive behaviour. We show (in the discrete case) that our approach formalises a certain duality between symmetry and information parsimony: namely, channel equivariances can be characterised by the optimal mutual information-preserving joint compression of the channel's input and output. This information-theoretic treatment furthermore suggests a principled notion of "soft" equivariance, whose "coarseness" is measured by the amount of input-output mutual information preserved by the corresponding optimal compression. This new notion offers a bridge between the field of bounded rationality and the study of symmetries in neural representations. The framework may also allow (exact and soft) equivariances to be automatically discovered.

Chat is not available.