This dissertation studies a fundamental open challenge in deep learning theory: why do deep networks generalize well even while being overparameterized, unregularized and fitting the training data to zero error? In the first part of the thesis, we will empirically study how training deep networks via stochastic gradient descent implicitly controls the networks' capacity. Subsequently, to show how this leads to better generalization, we will derive {\em data-dependent} {\em uniform-convergence-based} generalization bounds with improved dependencies on the parameter count. Uniform convergence has in fact been the most widely used tool in deep learning literature, thanks to its simplicity and generality. Given its popularity, in this thesis, we will also take a step back to identify the fundamental limits of uniform convergence as a tool to explain generalization. In particular, we will show that in some example overparameterized settings, {\em any} uniform convergence bound will provide only a vacuous generalization bound. With this realization in mind, in the last part of the thesis, we will change course and introduce an {\em empirical} technique to estimate generalization using unlabeled data. Our technique does not rely on any notion of uniform-convergece-based complexity and is remarkably precise. We will theoretically show why our technique enjoys such precision. We will conclude by discussing how future work could explore novel ways to incorporate distributional assumptions in generalization bounds (such as in the form of unlabeled data) and explore other tools to derive bounds, perhaps by modifying uniform convergence or by developing completely new tools altogether.

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In over-parameterized deep neural networks there can be many possible parameter configurations that fit the training data exactly. However, the properties of these interpolating solutions are poorly understood. We argue that over-parameterized neural networks trained with stochastic gradient descent are subject to a Geometric Occam's Razor; that is, these networks are implicitly regularized by the geometric model complexity. For one-dimensional regression, the geometric model complexity is simply given by the arc length of the function. For higher-dimensional settings, the geometric model complexity depends on the Dirichlet energy of the function. We explore the relationship between this Geometric Occam's Razor, the Dirichlet energy and other known forms of implicit regularization. Finally, for ResNets trained on CIFAR-10, we observe that Dirichlet energy measurements are consistent with the action of this implicit Geometric Occam's Razor.

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Deep Metric Learning (DML) aims to find representations suitable for zero-shot transfer to a priori unknown test distributions. However, common evaluation protocols only test a single, fixed data split in which train and test classes are assigned randomly. More realistic evaluations should consider a broad spectrum of distribution shifts with potentially varying degree and difficulty. In this work, we systematically construct train-test splits of increasing difficulty and present the ooDML benchmark to characterize generalization under out-of-distribution shifts in DML. ooDML is designed to probe the generalization performance on much more challenging, diverse train-to-test distribution shifts. Based on our new benchmark, we conduct a thorough empirical analysis of state-of-the-art DML methods. We find that while generalization tends to consistently degrade with difficulty, some methods are better at retaining performance as the distribution shift increases. Finally, we propose few-shot DML as an efficient way to consistently improve generalization in response to unknown test shifts presented in ooDML. Code available here: https://github.com/CompVis/Characterizing_Generalization_in_DML.

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A distributional symmetry is invariance of a distribution under a group of transformations. Exchangeability and stationarity are examples. We explain that a result of ergodic theory provides a law of large numbers: If the group satisfies suitable conditions, expectations can be estimated by averaging over subsets of transformations, and these estimators are strongly consistent. We show that, if a mixing condition holds, the averages also satisfy a central limit theorem, a Berry-Esseen bound, and concentration. These are extended further to apply to triangular arrays, to randomly subsampled averages, and to a generalization of U-statistics. As applications, we obtain new results on exchangeability, random fields, network models, and a class of marked point processes. We also establish asymptotic normality of the empirical entropy for a large class of processes. Some known results are recovered as special cases, and can hence be interpreted as an outcome of symmetry. The proofs adapt Stein's method.

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We derive information-theoretic generalization bounds for supervised learning algorithms based on the information contained in predictions rather than in the output of the training algorithm. These bounds improve over the existing information-theoretic bounds, are applicable to a wider range of algorithms, and solve two key challenges: (a) they give meaningful results for deterministic algorithms and (b) they are significantly easier to estimate. We show experimentally that the proposed bounds closely follow the generalization gap in practical scenarios for deep learning.

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Generalization to out-of-distribution (OOD) data is a capability natural to humans yet challenging for machines to reproduce. This is because most learning algorithms strongly rely on the i.i.d.~assumption on source/target data, which is often violated in practice due to domain shift. Domain generalization (DG) aims to achieve OOD generalization by using only source data for model learning. Since first introduced in 2011, research in DG has made great progresses. In particular, intensive research in this topic has led to a broad spectrum of methodologies, e.g., those based on domain alignment, meta-learning, data augmentation, or ensemble learning, just to name a few; and has covered various vision applications such as object recognition, segmentation, action recognition, and person re-identification. In this paper, for the first time a comprehensive literature review is provided to summarize the developments in DG for computer vision over the past decade. Specifically, we first cover the background by formally defining DG and relating it to other research fields like domain adaptation and transfer learning. Second, we conduct a thorough review into existing methods and present a categorization based on their methodologies and motivations. Finally, we conclude this survey with insights and discussions on future research directions.

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Model complexity is a fundamental problem in deep learning. In this paper we conduct a systematic overview of the latest studies on model complexity in deep learning. Model complexity of deep learning can be categorized into expressive capacity and effective model complexity. We review the existing studies on those two categories along four important factors, including model framework, model size, optimization process and data complexity. We also discuss the applications of deep learning model complexity including understanding model generalization capability, model optimization, and model selection and design. We conclude by proposing several interesting future directions.

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Deep learning is usually described as an experiment-driven field under continuous criticizes of lacking theoretical foundations. This problem has been partially fixed by a large volume of literature which has so far not been well organized. This paper reviews and organizes the recent advances in deep learning theory. The literature is categorized in six groups: (1) complexity and capacity-based approaches for analyzing the generalizability of deep learning; (2) stochastic differential equations and their dynamic systems for modelling stochastic gradient descent and its variants, which characterize the optimization and generalization of deep learning, partially inspired by Bayesian inference; (3) the geometrical structures of the loss landscape that drives the trajectories of the dynamic systems; (4) the roles of over-parameterization of deep neural networks from both positive and negative perspectives; (5) theoretical foundations of several special structures in network architectures; and (6) the increasingly intensive concerns in ethics and security and their relationships with generalizability.

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We study the link between generalization and interference in temporal-difference (TD) learning. Interference is defined as the inner product of two different gradients, representing their alignment. This quantity emerges as being of interest from a variety of observations about neural networks, parameter sharing and the dynamics of learning. We find that TD easily leads to low-interference, under-generalizing parameters, while the effect seems reversed in supervised learning. We hypothesize that the cause can be traced back to the interplay between the dynamics of interference and bootstrapping. This is supported empirically by several observations: the negative relationship between the generalization gap and interference in TD, the negative effect of bootstrapping on interference and the local coherence of targets, and the contrast between the propagation rate of information in TD(0) versus TD($\lambda$) and regression tasks such as Monte-Carlo policy evaluation. We hope that these new findings can guide the future discovery of better bootstrapping methods.

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Methods proposed in the literature towards continual deep learning typically operate in a task-based sequential learning setup. A sequence of tasks is learned, one at a time, with all data of current task available but not of previous or future tasks. Task boundaries and identities are known at all times. This setup, however, is rarely encountered in practical applications. Therefore we investigate how to transform continual learning to an online setup. We develop a system that keeps on learning over time in a streaming fashion, with data distributions gradually changing and without the notion of separate tasks. To this end, we build on the work on Memory Aware Synapses, and show how this method can be made online by providing a protocol to decide i) when to update the importance weights, ii) which data to use to update them, and iii) how to accumulate the importance weights at each update step. Experimental results show the validity of the approach in the context of two applications: (self-)supervised learning of a face recognition model by watching soap series and learning a robot to avoid collisions.

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Deep learning is the mainstream technique for many machine learning tasks, including image recognition, machine translation, speech recognition, and so on. It has outperformed conventional methods in various fields and achieved great successes. Unfortunately, the understanding on how it works remains unclear. It has the central importance to lay down the theoretic foundation for deep learning. In this work, we give a geometric view to understand deep learning: we show that the fundamental principle attributing to the success is the manifold structure in data, namely natural high dimensional data concentrates close to a low-dimensional manifold, deep learning learns the manifold and the probability distribution on it. We further introduce the concepts of rectified linear complexity for deep neural network measuring its learning capability, rectified linear complexity of an embedding manifold describing the difficulty to be learned. Then we show for any deep neural network with fixed architecture, there exists a manifold that cannot be learned by the network. Finally, we propose to apply optimal mass transportation theory to control the probability distribution in the latent space.

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