Exploring the Memorization Generalization Continuum in Deep Learning


Human learners appreciate that some facts demand memorization whereas other facts support generalization. For example, English verbs have irregular cases that must be memorized (e.g., go->went) and regular cases that generalize well (e.g., kiss->kissed, miss->missed). Likewise, deep neural networks have the capacity to memorize rare or irregular forms but nonetheless generalize across instances that share common patterns or structures. We analyze how individual instances are treated by a model on the memorization-generalization continuum via a consistency score. The score is the expected accuracy of a particular architecture for a held-out instance on a training set of a fixed size sampled from the data distribution. We obtain empirical estimates of this score for individual instances in multiple datasets, and we show that the score identifies out-of-distribution and mislabeled examples at one end of the continuum and regular examples at the other end. We explore three proxies to the consistency score: kernel density estimation on input and hidden representations; and the time course of training, i.e., learning speed. In addition to helping to understand the memorization versus generalization dynamics during training, the C-score proxies have potential application for out-of-distribution detection, curriculum learning, and active data collection.