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Conference Papers Year : 2023

Does a sparse ReLU network training problem always admit an optimum?


Given a training set, a loss function, and a neural network architecture, it is often taken for granted that optimal network parameters exist, and a common practice is to apply available optimization algorithms to search for them. In this work, we show that the existence of an optimal solution is not always guaranteed, especially in the context of {\em sparse} ReLU neural networks. In particular, we first show that optimization problems involving deep networks with certain sparsity patterns do not always have optimal parameters, and that optimization algorithms may then diverge. Via a new topological relation between sparse ReLU neural networks and their linear counterparts, we derive --using existing tools from real algebraic geometry-- an algorithm to verify that a given sparsity pattern suffers from this issue. Then, the existence of a global optimum is proved for every concrete optimization problem involving a shallow sparse ReLU neural network of output dimension one. Overall, the analysis is based on the investigation of two topological properties of the space of functions implementable as sparse ReLU neural networks: a best approximation property, and a closedness property, both in the uniform norm. This is studied both for (finite) domains corresponding to practical training on finite training sets, and for more general domains such as the unit cube. This allows us to provide conditions for the guaranteed existence of an optimum given a sparsity pattern. The results apply not only to several sparsity patterns proposed in recent works on network pruning/sparsification, but also to classical dense neural networks, including architectures not covered by existing results.
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Dates and versions

hal-04108849 , version 1 (03-06-2023)
hal-04108849 , version 2 (04-12-2023)





Quoc-Tung Le, Elisa Riccietti, Rémi Gribonval. Does a sparse ReLU network training problem always admit an optimum?. NeurIPS 2023 - Thirty-seventh Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, Dec 2023, New Orleans (Lousiane), United States. ⟨hal-04108849v2⟩
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