Scaling Laws for the Principled Design, Initialization and Preconditioning of ReLU Networks

Aaron Defazio, Léon Bottou

In this work, we describe a set of rules for the design and initialization of well-conditioned neural networks, guided by the goal of naturally balancing the diagonal blocks of the Hessian at the start of training. Our design principle balances multiple sensible measures of the conditioning of neural networks. We prove that for a ReLU-based deep multilayer perceptron, a simple initialization scheme using the geometric mean of the fan-in and fan-out satisfies our scaling rule. For more sophisticated architectures, we show how our scaling principle can be used to guide design choices to produce well-conditioned neural networks, reducing guess-work.

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