PDE+: Enhancing Generalization via PDE with Adaptive Distributional Diffusion

Yige Yuan,Bingbing Xu, Bo Lin, Liang Hou,Fei Sun, Huawei Shen,Xueqi Cheng

Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence(2023)

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The generalization of neural networks is a central challenge in machine learning, especially concerning the performance under distributions that differ from training ones. Current methods, mainly based on the data-driven paradigm such as data augmentation, adversarial training, and noise injection, may encounter limited generalization due to model non-smoothness. In this paper, we propose to investigate generalization from a Partial Differential Equation (PDE) perspective, aiming to enhance it directly through the underlying function of neural networks, rather than focusing on adjusting input data. Specifically, we first establish the connection between neural network generalization and the smoothness of the solution to a specific PDE, namely ``transport equation''. Building upon this, we propose a general framework that introduces adaptive distributional diffusion into transport equation to enhance the smoothness of its solution, thereby improving generalization. In the context of neural networks, we put this theoretical framework into practice as PDE+ (\textbf{PDE} with \textbf{A}daptive \textbf{D}istributional \textbf{D}iffusion) which diffuses each sample into a distribution covering semantically similar inputs. This enables better coverage of potentially unobserved distributions in training, thus improving generalization beyond merely data-driven methods. The effectiveness of PDE+ is validated in extensive settings, including clean samples and various corruptions, demonstrating its superior performance compared to SOTA methods.
adaptive distributional
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