Deep learning for insights

15Apr15

I admit that this is a bit of a melodramatic title. I was actually a little surprised that, before I used it, the phrase “deep learning for insights” did not exist in google. I gave a talk at eHarmony with this title, for the LA machine learning group. The video is posted here. The original announcement also has links to the slides.

The point of the title was that deep learning as we know it is amazing as a black box that does certain types of prediction (e.g. object recognition in images), but if you feed in a messy dataset and then look inside the box it’s difficult to gain any understanding of the data from that. Generally, this is a consequence of the fact that the optimization is “global”: every hidden unit contributes collectively towards doing a better job at predicting labels. There is no reason to expect an individual hidden unit to have an interesting meaning. In contrast, for “maximally informative representations”  each layer and hidden unit has a quantifiable contribution towards the information it contains about the data.

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