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Leveraging Continuous Time to Understand Momentum When Training Diagonal Linear Networks

Hristo Papazov · Scott Pesme · Nicolas Flammarion

MR1 & MR2 - Number 103
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Sat 4 May 6 a.m. PDT — 8:30 a.m. PDT

Abstract: In this work, we investigate the effect of momentum on the optimisation trajectory of gradient descent. We leverage a continuous-time approach in the analysis of momentum gradient descent with step size $\gamma$ and momentum parameter $\beta$ that allows us to identify an intrinsic quantity $\lambda = \frac{ \gamma }{ (1 - \beta)^2 }$ which uniquely defines the optimisation path and provides a simple acceleration rule. When training a $2$-layer diagonal linear network in an overparametrised regression setting, we characterise the recovered solution through an implicit regularisation problem. We then prove that small values of $\lambda$ help to recover sparse solutions. Finally, we give similar but weaker results for stochastic momentum gradient descent. We provide numerical experiments which support our claims.

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