Stability Based Generalization Bounds for Exponential Family Langevin Dynamics

Arindam Banerjee, Tiancong Chen, Xinyan Li, Yingxue Zhou

We study generalization bounds for noisy stochastic mini-batch iterative algorithms based on the notion of stability. Recent years have seen key advances in data-dependent generalization bounds for noisy iterative learning algorithms such as stochastic gradient Langevin dynamics (SGLD) based on stability (Mou et al., 2018; Li et al., 2020) and information theoretic approaches (Xu and Raginsky, 2017; Negrea et al., 2019; Steinke and Zakynthinou, 2020; Haghifam et al., 2020). In this paper, we unify and substantially generalize stability based generalization bounds and make three technical advances. First, we bound the generalization error of general noisy stochastic iterative algorithms (not necessarily gradient descent) in terms of expected (not uniform) stability. The expected stability can in turn be bounded by a Le Cam Style Divergence. Such bounds have a O(1/n) sample dependence unlike many existing bounds with O(1/\sqrt{n}) dependence. Second, we introduce Exponential Family Langevin Dynamics(EFLD) which is a substantial generalization of SGLD and which allows exponential family noise to be used with stochastic gradient descent (SGD). We establish data-dependent expected stability based generalization bounds for general EFLD algorithms. Third, we consider an important special case of EFLD: noisy sign-SGD, which extends sign-SGD using Bernoulli noise over {-1,+1}. Generalization bounds for noisy sign-SGD are implied by that of EFLD and we also establish optimization guarantees for the algorithm. Further, we present empirical results on benchmark datasets to illustrate that our bounds are non-vacuous and quantitatively much sharper than existing bounds.

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