Learning dynamics of gradient descent optimization in deep neural networks


Stochastic gradient descent (SGD)-based optimizers play a key role in most deep learning models, yet the learning dynamics of the complex model remain obscure. SGD is the basic tool to optimize model parameters, and is improved in many derived forms including SGD momentum and Nesterov accelerated gradient (NAG). However, the learning dynamics of optimizer parameters have seldom been studied. We propose to understand the model dynamics from the perspective of control theory. We use the status transfer function to approximate parameter dynamics for different optimizers as the first- or second-order control system, thus explaining how the parameters theoretically affect the stability and convergence time of deep learning models, and verify our findings by numerical experiments.

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This work was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 61933013, U1736211), Strategic Priority Research Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. XDA22030301), Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province (Grant No. 2019A1515011076), and Key Project of Natural Science Foundation of Hubei Province (Grant No. 2018CFA024).

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Correspondence to Wei Wu or Xiaoyuan Jing.

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Wu, W., Jing, X., Du, W. et al. Learning dynamics of gradient descent optimization in deep neural networks. Sci. China Inf. Sci. 64, 150102 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11432-020-3163-0

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  • learning dynamics
  • deep neural networks
  • gradient descent
  • control model
  • transfer function