WHY WE NEED Regularization?

Note that in this particular module we are working with linear score functions ( f(xi;W)=Wxi), so we can also rewrite the loss function in this equivalent form:


where wj is the j-th row of W reshaped as a column. However, this will not necessarily be the case once we start to consider more complex forms of the score function f.

A last piece of terminology we’ll mention before we finish with this section is that the threshold at zero max(0,) function is often called the hinge loss. You’ll sometimes hear about people instead using the squared hinge loss SVM (or L2-SVM), which uses the form max(0,)2 that penalizes violated margins more strongly (quadratically instead of linearly). The unsquared version is more standard, but in some datasets the squared hinge loss can work better. This can be determined during cross-validation.

Regularization. There is one bug with the loss function we presented above. Suppose that we have a dataset and a set of parameters W that correctly classify every example (i.e. all scores are so that all the margins are met, and Li=0 for all i). The issue is that this set of W is not necessarily unique: there might be many similar W that correctly classify the examples. One easy way to see this is that if some parameters W correctly classify all examples (so loss is zero for each example), then any multiple of these parameters λW where λ>1 will also give zero loss because this transformation uniformly stretches all score magnitudes and hence also their absolute differences. For example, if the difference in scores between a correct class and a nearest incorrect class was 15, then multiplying all elements of W by 2 would make the new difference 30.

In other words, we wish to encode some preference for a certain set of weights W over others to remove this ambiguity. We can do so by extending the loss function with a regularization penalty R(W). The most common regularization penalty is the L2 norm that discourages large weights through an elementwise quadratic penalty over all parameters:

In the expression above, we are summing up all the squared elements of W. Notice that the regularization function is not a function of the data, it is only based on the weights. Including the regularization penalty completes the full Multiclass Support Vector Machine loss, which is made up of two components: the data loss (which is the average loss Li over all examples) and the regularization loss. That is, the full Multiclass SVM loss becomes:
Where N is the number of training examples. As you can see, we append the regularization penalty to the loss objective, weighted by a hyperparameter λ. There is no simple way of setting this hyperparameter and it is usually determined by cross-validation.In addition to the motivation we provided above there are many desirable properties to include the regularization penalty, many of which we will come back to in later sections. For example, it turns out that including the L2 penalty leads to the appealing max margin property in SVMs (See CS229 lecture notes for full details if you are interested).

The most appealing property is that penalizing large weights tends to improve generalization, because it means that no input dimension can have a very large influence on the scores all by itself. For example, suppose that we have some input vector x=[1,1,1,1] and two weight vectors w1=[1,0,0,0], w2=[0.25,0.25,0.25,0.25]. Then wT1x=wT2x=1 so both weight vectors lead to the same dot product, but the L2 penalty of w1 is 1.0 while the L2 penalty of w2 is only 0.25. Therefore, according to the L2 penalty the weight vector w2 would be preferred since it achieves a lower regularization loss. Intuitively, this is because the weights in w2 are smaller and more diffuse. Since the L2 penalty prefers smaller and more diffuse weight vectors, the final classifier is encouraged to take into account all input dimensions to small amounts rather than a few input dimensions and very strongly. As we will see later in the class, this effect can improve the generalization performance of the classifiers on test images and lead to less overfitting.

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