# Assignment Boosting solution

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## Description

Boosting (20 Points)
In this problem, you will develop an alternative way of forward stagewise boosting. The overall
goal is to derive an algorithm for choosing the best weak learner ht at each step such that it best
approximates the gradient of the loss function with respect to the current prediction of labels. In
particular, consider a binary classification task of predicting labels yi ∈ {+1, −1} for instances
xi ∈ R
d
, for i = 1, . . . , n. We also have access to a set of weak learners denoted by H = {hj , j =
1, . . . , M}. In this framework, we first choose a loss function L(yi
, yˆi) in terms of current labels and
the true labels, e.g. least squares loss L(yi
, yˆi) = (yi −yˆi)
2
. Then we consider the gradient gi of the
cost function L(yi
, yˆi) with respect to the current predictions ˆyi on each instance, i.e. gi =
∂L(yi,yˆi)
∂yˆi
.
We take the following steps for boosting:
(a) Gradient Calculation (4 points) In this step, we calculate the gradients gi =
∂L(yi,yˆi)
∂yˆi
.
(b) Weak Learner Selection (8 points) We then choose the next learner to be the one that can
best predict these gradients, i.e. we choose
h
∗ = arg minh∈H
min
γ∈R
Xn
i=1
(−gi − γh(xi))2
!
We can show that the optimal value of the step size γ can be computed in the closed form in
this step, thus the selection rule for h

can be derived independent of γ.
(c) Step Size Selection (8 points) We then select the step size α

that minimizes the loss:
α
∗ = arg minα∈R
Xn
i=1
L(yi
, yˆi + αh∗
(xi)).
For the squared loss function, α

should be computed analytically in terms of yi
, ˆyi
, and h

.
Finally, we perform the following updating step:
yˆi ← yˆi + α
∗h

(xi).
In this question, you have to derive all the steps for squared loss function L(yi
, yˆi) = (yi − yˆi)
2
.
2 Neural Networks (20 Points)
(a) (8 points) Show that a neural network with a single logistic output and with linear activation
functions in the hidden layers (possibly with multiple hidden layers) is equivalent to the
logistic regression.
(b) (12 points) Consider the neural network in figure 1 with one hidden layer. Each hidden
layer is defined as zk = tanh(P3
i=1 wkixi) for k = 1, . . . , 4 and the outputs are defined as
yj =
P4
k=1 vjkzk for j = 1, 2. Suppose we choose the squared loss function for every pair,
i.e. L(y, yb) = 1
2

(y1 − yb1)
2 + (y2 − yb2)
2

, where yj and ybj represent the true outputs and our
estimations, respectively. Write down the backpropagation updates for estimation of wki and
vjk.

CSCI567 Fall 2016 Homework #4 Due 11/2
x1
x2
x3
z1
z2
z3
z4
y1
y2
Figure 1: A neural network with one hidden layer
Programming
Deep Learning (60 Points)
In this programming problem, you will be introduced to deep learning via hands on experimentation.
We will explore the effects of different activation functions, training techniques, architectures
and parameters in neural networks by training networks with different architectures and hyperparameters
For this homework, we highly recommend using the Google Cloud to run your code since training
neural networks can take several tens of hours on personal laptops. You will need all the multi-core
speedup you can get, to speed things up. We will only work with Python this time (no MATLAB),
since all the deep learning libraries we need, are freely available only for Python.
There is an accompanying code file along with this homework titled hw_utils.py. It contains four
functions which are all the functions you will need for the homework. You will not have to write any
deep learning code by yourself for this homework, instead you will just call these helper functions
with different parameter settings. Go over the file hw_utils.py and understand what each of the
helper functions do.
(a) Libraries: Launch a virtual machine on the Google Cloud (please use a 64-bit machine with
Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and the maximum number of CPU cores you can get). Begin by updating
the package list and then installing libraries
• Update package list: sudo apt-get update
• Python Package Manager (pip): sudo apt-get install python-pip
• Numpy and Scipy: Standard numerical computation libraries in Python. Install with:
sudo apt-get install python-numpy python-scipy
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CSCI567 Fall 2016 Homework #4 Due 11/2
• Theano: Analytical math engine. Install with:
sudo apt-get install python-dev python-nose g++ libopenblas-dev git
sudo pip install Theano
• Keras: A popular Deep Learning library. Install with:
sudo pip install keras
• Screen: For saving your session so that you can run code on the virtual machine even
when you are logged out of it. Install with:
sudo apt-get install screen
Next, configure Keras to use Theano as its backend (by default, it uses TensorFlow). Open
the Keras config file and change the backend field from tensorflow to theano. The Keras
config file keras.json can be edited on the terminal with nano:
nano ~/.keras/keras.json
(b) Useful information for homework: We will only use fully connected layers for this homework
in all networks. We will refer to network architecture in the format: [n1, n2, · · · , nL]
which defines a network having L layers, with n1 being the input size, nL being the output
size, and the others being hidden layer sizes, e.g. the network in figure 1 has architecture:
[3, 4, 2].
Checkout the various activation functions for neural networks namely linear (f(x) = x),
sigmoid, ReLu and softmax. In this homework we will always use the softmax activation for
the output layer, since we are dealing with a classification task and output of softmax layer
can be treated as probabilities for multi-class classification.
Have a look at the last part of the homework (hints and tips section) before you start the
homework to get some good tips for debugging and running your code fast.
A brief description of the functions in the helper file hw_utils.py is as follows:
• genmodel(): Returns a neural network model with the requested shape, activation
function and L2-regularizer. You won’t need to call this method at all.
• loaddata(): Loads the dataset for this homework, shuffles it, generates labels, bifurcates
the data and returns the training and test sets.
• normalize(): Normalizes the training and test set features.
• testmodels(): It takes the following parameters: your training and test data, a list of
model architectures, activation function (hidden layers and last layer), list of regularization
coefficients, number of epochs for stochastic gradient descent (SGD), batch size for
SGD, learning rate for SGD, list of step size decays for SGD, list of SGD momentum
parameters, boolean variable to turn nesterov momentum on/off, boolean variable to
turn early stopping on/off and another boolean variable to turn the verbose flag on/off.
The method generates a model of appropriate size and trains it on your training data.
It prints out the test set accuracy on the console. In case of list of parameters, it trains
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CSCI567 Fall 2016 Homework #4 Due 11/2
networks for all possible combinations of those parameters and also reports the best configuration
found (i.e. the configuration which gave the maximum test accuracy). This
is the method that you will have to call a lot in your code.
Lastly, try running the experiments multiple times if needed, since neural networks are
often subject to local minima and you might get suboptimal results in some cases.
(c) Dataset and preprocessing: We will use the MiniBooNE particle identification dataset
from the UCI Machine Learning Repository. It has 130064 instances with 50 features each
and each instance has to be classified as either ”signal” or ”background”.
loads the data, assigns labels to each instance, shuffles the dataset and randomly divides
it into training (80%) and test (20%) sets. It also makes your training and test set labels
categorical i.e. instead of a scalar ”0” or ”1”, each label becomes a two-dimensional tuple;
the new label is (1,0) if the original label is ”0” and it is (0,1) if the original label is ”1”. The
dimension of every feature is din = 50 and the dimension of output labels is dout = 2. Next,
normalize the features of both the sets by calling normalize() in your code.
(d) Linear activations: (5 Points) First we will explore networks with linear activations. Train
models of the following architectures: [din, dout], [din, 50, dout], [din, 50, 50, dout], [din, 50,
50, 50, dout] each having linear activations for all hidden layers and softmax activation for
the last layer. Use 0.0 regularization parameter, set the number of epochs to 30, batch size
to 1000, learning rate to 0.001, decay to 0.0, momentum to 0.0, Nesterov flag to False, and
Early Stopping to False. Report the test set accuracies and comment on the pattern of test
set accuracies obtained. Next, keeping the other parameters same, train on the following
architectures: [din, 50, dout], [din, 500, dout], [din, 500, 300, dout], [din, 800, 500, 300, dout],
[din, 800, 800, 500, 300, dout]. Report the observations and explain the pattern of test set
accuracies obtained. Also report the time taken to train these new set of architectures.
(e) Sigmoid activation: (5 Points) Next let us try sigmoid activations. We will only explore
the bigger architectures though. Train models of the following architectures: [din, 50, dout],
[din, 500, dout], [din, 500, 300, dout], [din, 800, 500, 300, dout], [din, 800, 800, 500, 300, dout];
all hidden layers with sigmoids and output layer with softmax. Keep all other parameters
the same as with linear activations. Report your test set accuracies and comment on the
trend of accuracies obtained with changing model architectures. Also explain why this trend
is different from that of linear activations. Report and compare the time taken to train these
architectures with those for linear architectures.
(f) ReLu activation: (5 Points) Repeat the above part with ReLu activations for the hidden
layers (output layer = softmax). Keep all other parameters and architectures the same, except
change the learning rate to 5 × 10−4
. Report your observations and explain the trend again.
Also explain why this trend is different from that of linear activations. Report and compare
the time taken to train these architectures with those for linear and sigmoid architectures.
(g) L2-Regularization: (5 Points) Next we will try to apply regularization to our network. For
this part we will use a deep network with four layers: [din, 800, 500, 300, dout]; all hidden
activations ReLu and output activation softmax. Keeping all other parameters same as for
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CSCI567 Fall 2016 Homework #4 Due 11/2
the previous part, train this network for the following set of L2-regularization parameters:
[10−7
, 5 × 10−7
, 10−6
, 5 × 10−6
, 10−5
]. Report your accuracies on the test set and explain the
trend of observations. Report the best value of the regularization hyperparameter.
(h) Early Stopping and L2-regularization: (5 Points) To prevent overfitting, we will next
apply early stopping techniques. For early stopping, we reserve a portion of our data as a
validation set and if the error starts increasing on it, we stop our training earlier than the
provided number of iterations. We will use 10% of our training data as a validation set
and stop if the error on the validation set goes up consecutively six times. Train the same
architecture as the last part, with the same set of L2-regularization coefficients, but this
time set the Early Stopping flag in the call to testmodels() as True. Again report your
accuracies on the test set and explain the trend of observations. Report the best value of the
regularization hyperparameter this time. Is it the same as with only L2-regularization? Did
early stopping help?
(i) SGD with weight decay: (5 Points) During gradient descent, it is often a good idea to
start with a big value of the learning rate (α) and then reduce it as the number of iterations
progress i.e.
αt =
α0
1 + βt
In this part we will experiment with the decay factor β. Use the network [din, 800, 500,
300, dout]; all hidden activations ReLu and output activation softmax. Use a regularization
coefficient = 5 × 10−7, number of epochs = 100, batch size = 1000, learning rate = 10−5
,
and a list of decays: [10−5
, 5 × 10−5
, 10−4
, 3 × 10−4
, 7 × 10−4
, 10−3
]. Use no momentum and
no early stopping. Report your test set accuracies for the decay parameters and choose the
best one based on your observations.
use a variant of basic momentum techniques called the Nesterov momentum. Train the
same architecture as in the previous part (with ReLu hidden activations and softmax final
activation) with the following parameters: regularization coefficient = 0.0, number of epochs
= 50, batch size = 1000, learning rate = 10−5
, decay = best value found in last part, Nesterov
= True, Early Stopping = False and a list of momentum coefficients = [0.99, 0.98, 0.95, 0.9,
0.85]. Find the best value for the momentum coefficients, which gives the maximum test set
accuracy.
(k) Combining the above: (10 Points) Now train the above architecture: [din, 800, 500, 300,
dout] (hidden activations: ReLu and output activation softmax) again, but this time we will
use the optimal values of the parameters found in the previous parts. Concretely, use number
of epochs = 100, batch size = 1000, learning rate = 10−5
, Nesterov = True and Early Stopping
= True. For regularization coefficient, decay and momentum coefficient use the best values
that you found in the last few parts. Report your test set accuracy again. Is it better or
worse than the accuracies you observed in the last few parts?
(l) Grid search with cross-validation: (15 Points) This time we will do a full fledged search
for the best architecture and parameter combinations. Train networks with architectures
[din, 50, dout], [din, 500, dout], [din, 500, 300, dout], [din, 800, 500, 300, dout], [din, 800, 800,
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CSCI567 Fall 2016 Homework #4 Due 11/2
500, 300, dout]; hidden activations ReLu and final activation softmax. For each network use
the following parameter values: number of epochs = 100, batch size = 1000, learning rate
= 10−5
, Nesterov = True, Early Stopping = True, Momentum coefficient = 0.99 (this is
mostly independent of other values, so we can directly use it without including it in the
hyperparameter search). For the other parameters search the full lists: for regularization
coefficients = [10−7
, 5 × 10−7
, 10−6
, 5 × 10−6
, 10−5
], and for decays = [10−5
, 5 × 10−5
, 10−4
].
Report the best parameter values, architecture and the best test set accuracy obtained.
Hints and tips:
• You can use FTP clients like FileZilla for transferring code and data to and fro from the
virtual machine on the Google Cloud.
• Always use a screen session on the virtual machine to run your code. That way you can
logout of the VM without having to terminate your code. A new screen session can be started
on the console by: screen -S