Deep Networks Always Grok and Here is Why


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Grokking, or delayed generalization, is a phenomenon where generalization in a deep neural network (DNN) occurs long after achieving near zero training error. Previous studies have reported the occurrence of grokking in specific controlled settings, such as DNNs initialized with large-norm parameters or transformers trained on algorithmic datasets. We demonstrate that grokking is actually much more widespread and materializes in a wide range of practical settings, such as training of a convolutional neural network (CNN) on CIFAR10 or a Resnet on Imagenette. We introduce the new concept of delayed robustness, whereby a DNN groks adversarial examples and becomes robust, long after interpolation and/or generalization. We develop an analytical explanation for the emergence of both delayed generalization and delayed robustness based on a new measure of the local complexity of a DNN's input-output mapping. Our local complexity measures the density of the so-called 'linear regions' (aka, spline partition regions) that tile the DNN input space, and serves as a utile progress measure for training. We provide the first evidence that for classification problems, the linear regions undergo a phase transition during training whereafter they migrate away from the training samples (making the DNN mapping smoother there) and towards the decision boundary (making the DNN mapping less smooth there). Grokking occurs post phase transition as a robust partition of the input space emerges thanks to the linearization of the DNN mapping around the training points. Website:
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