The information bottleneck (IB) principle has been suggested as a way to analyze deep neural networks. The learning dynamics are studied by inspecting the mutual information (MI) between the hidden layers and the input and output. Notably, separate fitting and compression phases during training have been reported. This led to some controversy including claims that the observations are not reproducible and strongly dependent on the type of activation function used as well as on the way the MI is estimated. Our study confirms that different ways of binning when computing the MI lead to qualitatively different results, either supporting or refusing IB conjectures.To resolve the controversy, we study the IB principle in settings where MI is non-trivial and can be computed exactly. We monitor the dynamics of quantized neural networks, that is, we discretize the whole deep learning system so that no approximation is required when computing the MI. This allows us to quantify the information flow without measurement errors. In this setting, we observed a fitting phase for all layers and a compression phase for the output layer in all experiments; the compression in the hidden layers was dependent on the type of activation function. Our study shows that the initial IB results were not artifacts of binning when computing the MI. However, the critical claim that the compression phase may not be observed for some networks also holds true.
While there has been substantial recent work studying generalization of neural networks, the ability of deep nets in automating the process of feature extraction still evades a thorough mathematical understanding. As a step toward this goal, we analyze learning and generalization of a three-layer neural network with ReLU activations in a regime that goes beyond the linear approximation of the network, and is hence not captured by the common Neural Tangent Kernel. We show that despite nonconvexity of the empirical loss, a variant of SGD converges in polynomially many iterations to a good solution that generalizes. In particular, our generalization bounds are adaptive: they automatically optimize over a family of kernels that includes the Neural Tangent Kernel, to provide the tightest bound. 153554b96e