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Deep Network Approximation: Achieving Arbitrary Accuracy with Fixed Number of Neurons

Shijun Zhang, Zuowei Shen, Haizhao Yang; 23(276):1−60, 2022.


This paper develops simple feed-forward neural networks that achieve the universal approximation property for all continuous functions with a fixed finite number of neurons. These neural networks are simple because they are designed with a simple, computable, and continuous activation function $\sigma$ leveraging a triangular-wave function and the softsign function. We first prove that $\sigma$-activated networks with width $36d(2d+1)$ and depth $11$ can approximate any continuous function on a $d$-dimensional hypercube within an arbitrarily small error. Hence, for supervised learning and its related regression problems, the hypothesis space generated by these networks with a size not smaller than $36d(2d+1)\times 11$ is dense in the continuous function space $C([a,b]^d)$ and therefore dense in the Lebesgue spaces $L^p([a,b]^d)$ for $p\in [1,\infty)$. Furthermore, we show that classification functions arising from image and signal classification are in the hypothesis space generated by $\sigma$-activated networks with width $36d(2d+1)$ and depth $12$ when there exist pairwise disjoint bounded closed subsets of $\mathbb{R}^d$ such that the samples of the same class are located in the same subset. Finally, we use numerical experimentation to show that replacing the rectified linear unit (ReLU) activation function by ours would improve the experiment results.

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