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In IEEE transactions on neural networks and learning systems

By redefining the conventional notions of layers, we present an alternative view on finitely wide, fully trainable deep neural networks as stacked linear models in feature spaces, leading to a kernel machine interpretation. Based on this construction, we then propose a provably optimal modular learning framework for classification that does not require between-module backpropagation. This modular approach brings new insights into the label requirement of deep learning (DL). It leverages only implicit pairwise labels (weak supervision) when learning the hidden modules. When training the output module, on the other hand, it requires full supervision but achieves high label efficiency, needing as few as ten randomly selected labeled examples (one from each class) to achieve 94.88% accuracy on CIFAR-10 using a ResNet-18 backbone. Moreover, modular training enables fully modularized DL workflows, which then simplify the design and implementation of pipelines and improve the maintainability and reusability of models. To showcase the advantages of such a modularized workflow, we describe a simple yet reliable method for estimating reusability of pretrained modules as well as task transferability in a transfer learning setting. At practically no computation overhead, it precisely described the task space structure of 15 binary classification tasks from CIFAR-10.

Duan Shiyu, Yu Shujian, Principe Jose C