Reviewing Evolution of Learning Functions and Semantic Information Measures for Understanding Deep Learning [Book Review]

Entropy 25 (5) (2023)
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A new trend in deep learning, represented by Mutual Information Neural Estimation (MINE) and Information Noise Contrast Estimation (InfoNCE), is emerging. In this trend, similarity functions and Estimated Mutual Information (EMI) are used as learning and objective functions. Coincidentally, EMI is essentially the same as Semantic Mutual Information (SeMI) proposed by the author 30 years ago. This paper first reviews the evolutionary histories of semantic information measures and learning functions. Then, it briefly introduces the author’s semantic information G theory with the rate-fidelity function R(G) (G denotes SeMI, and R(G) extends R(D)) and its applications to multi-label learning, the maximum Mutual Information (MI) classification, and mixture models. Then it discusses how we should understand the relationship between SeMI and Shannon’s MI, two generalized entropies (fuzzy entropy and coverage entropy), Autoencoders, Gibbs distributions, and partition functions from the perspective of the R(G) function or the G theory. An important conclusion is that mixture models and Restricted Boltzmann Machines converge because SeMI is maximized, and Shannon’s MI is minimized, making information efficiency G/R close to 1. A potential opportunity is to simplify deep learning by using Gaussian channel mixture models for pre-training deep neural networks’ latent layers without considering gradients. It also discusses how the SeMI measure is used as the reward function (reflecting purposiveness) for reinforcement learning. The G theory helps interpret deep learning but is far from enough. Combining semantic information theory and deep learning will accelerate their development.

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