Functional Gradient Boosting for Learning Residual-like Networks with Statistical Guarantees


Atsushi Nitanda, Taiji Suzuki ;
Proceedings of the Twenty Third International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics, PMLR 108:2981-2991, 2020.


Recently, several studies have proposed progressive or sequential layer-wise training methods based on the boosting theory for deep neural networks. However, most studies lack the global convergence guarantees or require weak learning conditions that can be verified a posteriori after running methods. Moreover, generalization bounds usually have a worse dependence on network depth. In this paper, to resolve these problems, we propose a new functional gradient boosting for learning deep residual-like networks in a layer-wise fashion with its statistical guarantees on multi-class classification tasks. In the proposed method, each residual block is recognized as a functional gradient (i.e., weak learner), and the functional gradient step is performed by stacking it on the network, resulting in a strong optimization ability. In the theoretical analysis, we show the global convergence of the method under a standard margin assumption on a data distribution instead of a weak learning condition, and we eliminate a worse dependence on the network depth in a generalization bound via a fine-grained convergence analysis. %, unlike existing studies. Moreover, we show that the existence of a learnable function with a large margin on a training dataset significantly improves a generalization bound. Finally, we experimentally demonstrate that our proposed method is certainly useful for learning deep residual networks.

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