Spherical Motion Dynamics: Learning Dynamics of Normalized Neural Network using SGD and Weight Decay

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 pre-proceedings (NeurIPS 2021)

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Authors

Ruosi Wan, Zhanxing Zhu, Xiangyu Zhang, Jian Sun

Abstract

In this paper, we comprehensively reveal the learning dynamics of normalized neural network using Stochastic Gradient Descent (with momentum) and Weight Decay (WD), named as Spherical Motion Dynamics (SMD). Most related works focus on studying behavior of effective learning rate" inequilibrium" state, i.e. assuming weight norm remains unchanged. However, their discussion on why this equilibrium can be reached is either absent or less convincing. Our work directly explores the cause of equilibrium, as a special state of SMD. Specifically, 1) we introduce the assumptions that can lead to equilibrium state in SMD, and prove equilibrium can be reached in a linear rate regime under given assumptions; 2) we propose ``angular update" as a substitute for effective learning rate to depict the state of SMD, and derive the theoretical value of angular update in equilibrium state; 3) we verify our assumptions and theoretical results on various large-scale computer vision tasks including ImageNet and MSCOCO with standard settings. Experiment results show our theoretical findings agree well with empirical observations. We also show that the behavior of angular update in SMD can produce interesting effect to the optimization of neural network in practice.