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# Universality of empirical risk minimization

*Proceedings of Thirty Fifth Conference on Learning Theory*, PMLR 178:4310-4312, 2022.

#### Abstract

Consider supervised learning from i.i.d. samples {(y_i, x_i )}_{i≤n} where x_i ∈ R_p are feature vectors and y_i ∈ R are labels. We study empirical risk minimization over a class of functions that are parameterized by k = O(1) vectors θ_1 , . . . , θ_k ∈ R_p, and prove universality results both for the training and test error. Namely, under the proportional asymptotics n, p → ∞ , with n/p = Θ(1), we prove that the training error depends on the random features distribution only through its covariance structure. Further, we prove that the minimum test error over near-empirical risk minimizers enjoys similar universality properties. In particular, the asymptotics of these quantities can be computed —to leading order— under a simpler model in which the feature vectors x_i are replaced by Gaussian vectors g_i with the same covariance. Earlier universality results were limited to strongly convex learning procedures, or to feature vectors x_i with independent entries. Our results do not make any of these assumptions. Our assumptions are general enough to include feature vectors x_i that are produced by randomized featurization maps. In particular we explicitly check the assumptions for certain random features models (computing the output of a one-layer neural network with random weights) and neural tangent models (first-order Taylor approximation of two-layer networks).