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Oral
How transferable are features in deep neural networks?
Jason Yosinski · Jeff Clune · Yoshua Bengio · Hod Lipson

Tue Dec 09 02:20 PM -- 02:40 PM (PST) @ Level 2, room 210

Many deep neural networks trained on natural images exhibit a curious phenomenon in common: on the first layer they learn features similar to Gabor filters and color blobs. Such first-layer features appear not to be specific to a particular dataset or task, but general in that they are applicable to many datasets and tasks. Features must eventually transition from general to specific by the last layer of the network, but this transition has not been studied extensively. In this paper we experimentally quantify the generality versus specificity of neurons in each layer of a deep convolutional neural network and report a few surprising results. Transferability is negatively affected by two distinct issues: (1) the specialization of higher layer neurons to their original task at the expense of performance on the target task, which was expected, and (2) optimization difficulties related to splitting networks between co-adapted neurons, which was not expected. In an example network trained on ImageNet, we demonstrate that either of these two issues may dominate, depending on whether features are transferred from the bottom, middle, or top of the network. We also document that the transferability of features decreases as the distance between the base task and target task increases, but that transferring features even from distant tasks can be better than using random features. A final surprising result is that initializing a network with transferred features from almost any number of layers can produce a boost to generalization that lingers even after fine-tuning to the target dataset.

Author Information

Jason Yosinski (Cornell University)
Jeff Clune (University of Wyoming)
Yoshua Bengio (University of Montreal)

Yoshua Bengio (PhD'1991 in Computer Science, McGill University). After two post-doctoral years, one at MIT with Michael Jordan and one at AT&T Bell Laboratories with Yann LeCun, he became professor at the department of computer science and operations research at Université de Montréal. Author of two books (a third is in preparation) and more than 200 publications, he is among the most cited Canadian computer scientists and is or has been associate editor of the top journals in machine learning and neural networks. Since '2000 he holds a Canada Research Chair in Statistical Learning Algorithms, since '2006 an NSERC Chair, since '2005 his is a Senior Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and since 2014 he co-directs its program focused on deep learning. He is on the board of the NIPS foundation and has been program chair and general chair for NIPS. He has co-organized the Learning Workshop for 14 years and co-created the International Conference on Learning Representations. His interests are centered around a quest for AI through machine learning, and include fundamental questions on deep learning, representation learning, the geometry of generalization in high-dimensional spaces, manifold learning and biologically inspired learning algorithms.

Hod Lipson (Cornell University)

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