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Tez: Improving Neural Networks with Dropout

Nitish Srivastava
Master’s Thesis
University of Toronto

Deep neural nets with a huge number of parameters are very powerful machine learning systems. However, overfitting is a serious problem in such networks. Large networks are also slow to use, making it difficult to deal with overfitting by combining many different large neural nets at test time. Dropout is a technique for addressing this problem. The key idea is to randomly drop units (along with their connections) from a neural network during training. This prevents the units from co-adapting too much. Dropping units creates thinned networks during training. The number of possible thinned networks is exponential in the number of units in the network. At test time all possible thinned networks are combined using an approximate model averaging procedure. Dropout training followed by this approximate model combination significantly reduces overfitting and gives major improvements over other regularization methods. In this work, we describe models that improve the performance of neural networks using dropout, often obtaining state-of-the-art results on benchmark datasets.

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