A finite sample analysis of the benign overfitting phenomenon for ridge function estimation

Emmanuel Caron, Stephane Chretien

Recent extensive numerical experiments in high scale machine learning have allowed to uncover a quite counterintuitive phase transition, as a function of the ratio between the sample size and the number of parameters in the model. As the number of parameters $p$ approaches the sample size $n$, the generalisation error (a.k.a. testing error) increases, but in many cases, it starts decreasing again past the threshold $p=n$. This surprising phenomenon, brought to the theoretical community attention in \cite{belkin2019reconciling}, has been thoroughly investigated lately, more specifically for simpler models than deep neural networks, such as the linear model when the parameter is taken to be the minimum norm solution to the least-square problem, mostly in the asymptotic regime when $p$ and $n$ tend to $+\infty$; see e.g. \cite{hastie2019surprises}. In the present paper, we propose a finite sample analysis of non-linear models of \textit{ridge} type, where we investigate the \textit{overparametrised regime} of the double descent phenomenon for both the \textit{estimation problem} and the \textit{prediction} problem. Our results provide a precise analysis of the distance of the best estimator from the true parameter as well as a generalisation bound which complements recent works of \cite{bartlett2020benign} and \cite{chinot2020benign}. Our analysis is based on efficient but elementary tools closely related to the continuous Newton method \cite{neuberger2007continuous}.

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