View publication

Deep learning algorithms are well-known to have a propensity for fitting the training data very well and often fit even outliers and mislabeled data points. Such fitting requires memorization of training data labels, a phenomenon that has attracted significant research interest but has not been given a compelling explanation so far. A recent work of Feldman (2019) proposes a theoretical explanation for this phenomenon based on a combination of two insights. First, natural image and data distributions are (informally) known to be long-tailed, that is have a significant fraction of rare and atypical examples. Second, in a simple theoretical model such memorization is necessary for achieving close-to-optimal generalization error when the data distribution is long-tailed. However, no direct empirical evidence for this explanation or even an approach for obtaining such evidence were given.

In this work we design experiments to test the key ideas in this theory. The experiments require estimation of the influence of each training example on the accuracy at each test example as well as memorization values of training examples. Estimating these quantities directly is computationally prohibitive but we show that closely-related subsampled influence and memorization values can be estimated much more efficiently. Our experiments demonstrate the significant benefits of memorization for generalization on several standard benchmarks. They also provide quantitative and visually compelling evidence for the theory put forth in (Feldman, 2019).

Related readings and updates.

When is Memorization of Irrelevant Training Data Necessary for High-Accuracy Learning?

This paper was accepted at the Theory and Practice of Differential Privacy workshop at the ICML 2021 conference. Modern machine learning models are complex and frequently encode surprising amounts of information about individual inputs. In extreme cases, complex models appear to memorize entire input examples, including seemingly irrelevant information (social security numbers from text, for example). In this paper, we aim to understand whether…
See paper details

Apple at NeurIPS 2020

Apple sponsored the Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS) conference, which was held virtually from December 6 to 12. NeurIPS is a global conference focused on fostering the exchange of research on neural information processing systems in their biological, technological, mathematical, and theoretical aspects.

See event details