Justices for Information Bottleneck Theory

Faxian Cao, Yongqiang Cheng, Adil Mehmood Khan, Zhijing Yang

This study comes as a timely response to mounting criticism of the information bottleneck (IB) theory, injecting fresh perspectives to rectify misconceptions and reaffirm its validity. Firstly, we introduce an auxiliary function to reinterpret the maximal coding rate reduction method as a special yet local optimal case of IB theory. Through this auxiliary function, we clarify the paradox of decreasing mutual information during the application of ReLU activation in deep learning (DL) networks. Secondly, we challenge the doubts about IB theory's applicability by demonstrating its capacity to explain the absence of a compression phase with linear activation functions in hidden layers, when viewed through the lens of the auxiliary function. Lastly, by taking a novel theoretical stance, we provide a new way to interpret the inner organizations of DL networks by using IB theory, aligning them with recent experimental evidence. Thus, this paper serves as an act of justice for IB theory, potentially reinvigorating its standing and application in DL and other fields such as communications and biomedical research.

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