Nearly-tight bounds on linear regions of piecewise linear neural networks

Qiang Hu, Hao Zhang

The developments of deep neural networks (DNN) in recent years have ushered a brand new era of artificial intelligence. DNNs are proved to be excellent in solving very complex problems, e.g., visual recognition and text understanding, to the extent of competing with or even surpassing people. Despite inspiring and encouraging success of DNNs, thorough theoretical analyses still lack to unravel the mystery of their magics. The design of DNN structure is dominated by empirical results in terms of network depth, number of neurons and activations. A few of remarkable works published recently in an attempt to interpret DNNs have established the first glimpses of their internal mechanisms. Nevertheless, research on exploring how DNNs operate is still at the initial stage with plenty of room for refinement. In this paper, we extend precedent research on neural networks with piecewise linear activations (PLNN) concerning linear regions bounds. We present (i) the exact maximal number of linear regions for single layer PLNNs; (ii) a upper bound for multi-layer PLNNs; and (iii) a tighter upper bound for the maximal number of liner regions on rectifier networks. The derived bounds also indirectly explain why deep models are more powerful than shallow counterparts, and how non-linearity of activation functions impacts on expressiveness of networks.

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