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Embedded Ensembles: infinite width limit and operating regimes

Maksim Velikanov · Roman Kail · Ivan Anokhin · Roman Vashurin · Maxim Panov · Alexey Zaytsev · Dmitry Yarotsky


A memory efficient approach to ensembling neural networks is to share most weights among the ensembled models by means of a single reference network. We refer to this strategy as Embedded Ensembling (EE); its particular examples are BatchEnsembles and Monte-Carlo dropout ensembles. In this paper we perform a systematic theoretical and empirical analysis of embedded ensembles with different number of models. Theoretically, we use a Neural-Tangent-Kernel-based approach to derive the wide network limit of the gradient descent dynamics. In this limit, we identify two ensemble regimes - independent and collective - depending on the architecture and initialization strategy of ensemble models. We prove that in the independent regime the embedded ensemble behaves as an ensemble of independent models. We confirm our theoretical prediction with a wide range of experiments with finite networks, and further study empirically various effects such as transition between the two regimes, scaling of ensemble performance with the network width and number of models, and dependence of performance on a number of architecture and hyperparameter choices.

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