ResNets & Flows of Diffeomorphisms

Published in IMT Atlantique, Brest, FR, 2019

This study addresses the understanding and characterization of residual networks (ResNet), which are among the state-of-the-art deep learning architectures for a variety of supervised learning problems. We focus on the mapping component of ResNets, which map the embedding space toward a new unknown space where the prediction or classification can be stated according to linear criteria. We show that this mapping component can be regarded as the numerical implementation of continuous flows of diffeomorphisms governed by ordinary differential equations. In particular, ResNets with shared weights are fully characterized as numerical approximation of exponential diffeomorphic operators. We stress both theoretically and numerically the relevance of the enforcement of diffeomorphic properties and the importance of numerical issues to make consistent the continuous formulation and the discretized ResNet implementation. We further discuss the resulting theoretical and computational insights into ResNet architectures. Related paper: Rousseau et al. Residual Networks as Flows of Diffeomorphisms. JMIV 2019 (link)