I came across an excercise on deep learning from here. It goes as follows: Consider a simple MLP with a single hidden layer of $d$ dimensions in the hidden layer and a single output. Show that for any local minimum there are at least $d!$ equivalent solutions that behave identically.

As the network is a MLP with one hidden layer, the equation would be: $O = W^{(2)}(W^{(1)}x + b_1) + b_2$

Assuming I am correct, where do I need to go from here to get to the solution?


1 Answer 1


If one permutes the connections of the hidden layer ($d!$ ways to do that), and move and rename connections appropriately, then one effectively has the same MLP with the exact same minima, yet the configuration has changed (in a trivial sense). Thus there are (at least) $d!$ configurations only trivialy different with the exact same minima.

To see it in your notation, effectively the hidden layer output is the following sum:

$$O_{\text{hidden}} = \sum_{i=1}^d w_{\pi_i} \cdot x + b_{\pi_i}$$

Where $\pi_i$ is some order of the connections. For example $\pi_i = i$

But for $d$ items there are $d!$ permutations thus $d!$ order functions $\pi(i) = \pi_i$. Yet the difference is only in re-ordering the configuration and is trivial. The rest follow from that.

This is one reason why Neural Networks are non-convex models.

See also: Explanation of why Neural Networks are non convex

  • $\begingroup$ Excellent explanation $\endgroup$ Commented May 6, 2021 at 4:23

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