On the Generalization Ability of Unsupervised Pretraining


Recent advances in unsupervised learning have shown that unsupervised pre-training, followed by fine-tuning, can improve model generalization. However, a rigorous understanding of how the representation function learned on an unlabeled dataset affects the generalization of the fine-tuned model is lacking. Existing theoretical research does not adequately account for the heterogeneity of the distribution, tasks and complexity of models at each stage within this learning paradigm. To bridge this gap, this paper introduces a novel theoretical framework that illuminates the critical factor influencing the transferability of knowledge acquired during unsupervised pre-training to the subsequent fine-tuning phase, ultimately affecting the generalization capabilities of the fine-tuned model on downstream tasks. We apply our theoretical framework to two distinct scenarios: Context Encoder pre-training with deep neural networks and Masked Autoencoder pre-training with deep transformers, followed by fine-tuning on a binary classification task. In doing so, we establish the generalization bounds for these specific learning setups. Finally, inspired by our findings, we propose a novel regularization method during pre-training to further enhances the generalization of fine-tuned model. Overall, our results contribute to a better understanding of unsupervised pre-training and fine-tuning paradigm, and can inspire the design of effective pre-training algorithms.

The 27th International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics
Junyuan Hong
Junyuan Hong
Postdoctoral Fellow

My research interest lies in the interaction of human-centered AI and healthcare.