Summary by José Manuel Rodríguez Sotelo 2 years ago
The main contribution of this paper is introducing a new transformation that the authors call Batch Normalization (BN). The need for BN comes from the fact that during the training of deep neural networks (DNNs) the distribution of each layer’s input change. This phenomenon is called internal covariate shift (ICS).
#### What is BN?
Normalize each (scalar) feature independently with respect to the mean and variance of the mini batch. Scale and shift the normalized values with two new parameters (per activation) that will be learned. The BN consists of making normalization part of the model architecture.
#### What do we gain?
According to the author, the use of BN provides a great speed up in the training of DNNs. In particular, the gains are greater when it is combined with higher learning rates. In addition, BN works as a regularizer for the model which allows to use less dropout or less L2 normalization. Furthermore, since the distribution of the inputs is normalized, it also allows to use sigmoids as activation functions without the saturation problem.
#### What follows?
This seems to be specially promising for training recurrent neural networks (RNNs). The vanishing and exploding gradient problems \cite{journals/tnn/BengioSF94} have their origin in the iteration of transformation that scale up or down the activations in certain directions (eigenvectors). It seems that this regularization would be specially useful in this context since this would allow the gradient to flow more easily. When we unroll the RNNs, we usually have ultra deep networks.
#### Like
* Simple idea that seems to improve training.
* Makes training faster.
* Simple to implement. Probably.
* You can be less careful with initialization.
#### Dislike
* Does not work with stochastic gradient descent (minibatch size = 1).
* This could reduce the parallelism of the algorithm since now all the examples in a mini batch are tied.
* Results on ensemble of networks for ImageNet makes it harder to evaluate the relevance of BN by itself. (Although they do mention the performance of a single model).

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