Double Trouble in Double Descent: Bias and Variance(s) in the Lazy Regime
Proceedings of the 37th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 119:2280-2290, 2020.
Deep neural networks can achieve remarkable generalization performances while interpolating the training data. Rather than the U-curve emblematic of the bias-variance trade-off, their test error often follows a "double descent"—a mark of the beneficial role of overparametrization. In this work, we develop a quantitative theory for this phenomenon in the so-called lazy learning regime of neural networks, by considering the problem of learning a high-dimensional function with random features regression. We obtain a precise asymptotic expression for the bias-variance decomposition of the test error, and show that the bias displays a phase transition at the interpolation threshold, beyond it which it remains constant. We disentangle the variances stemming from the sampling of the dataset, from the additive noise corrupting the labels, and from the initialization of the weights. We demonstrate that the latter two contributions are the crux of the double descent: they lead to the overfitting peak at the interpolation threshold and to the decay of the test error upon overparametrization. We quantify how they are suppressed by ensembling the outputs of $K$ independently initialized estimators. For $K\rightarrow \infty$, the test error is monotonously decreasing and remains constant beyond the interpolation threshold. We further compare the effects of overparametrizing, ensembling and regularizing. Finally, we present numerical experiments on classic deep learning setups to show that our results hold qualitatively in realistic lazy learning scenarios.