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# A type of generalization error induced by initialization in deep neural networks

*Proceedings of The First Mathematical and Scientific Machine Learning Conference*, PMLR 107:144-164, 2020.

#### Abstract

How initialization and loss function affect the learning of a deep neural network (DNN), specifically its generalization error, is an important problem in practice. In this work, by exploiting the linearity of DNN training dynamics in the NTK regime \citep{jacot2018neural,lee2019wide}, we provide an explicit and quantitative answer to this problem. Focusing on regression problem, we prove that, in the NTK regime, for any loss in a general class of functions, the DNN finds the same \emph{global} minima—the one that is nearest to the initial value in the parameter space, or equivalently, the one that is closest to the initial DNN output in the corresponding reproducing kernel Hilbert space. Using these optimization problems, we quantify the impact of initial output and prove that a random non-zero one increases the generalization error. We further propose an antisymmetrical initialization (ASI) trick that eliminates this type of error and accelerates the training. To understand whether the above results hold in general, we also perform experiments for DNNs in the non-NTK regime, which demonstrate the effectiveness of our theoretical results and the ASI trick in a qualitative sense. Overall, our work serves as a baseline for the further investigation of the impact of initialization and loss function on the generalization of DNNs, which can potentially guide and improve the training of DNNs in practice.