Efficient shallow learning as an alternative to deep learning

Yuval Meir, Ofek Tevet, Yarden Tzach, Shiri Hodassman, Ronit D. Gross, Ido Kanter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The realization of complex classification tasks requires training of deep learning (DL) architectures consisting of tens or even hundreds of convolutional and fully connected hidden layers, which is far from the reality of the human brain. According to the DL rationale, the first convolutional layer reveals localized patterns in the input and large-scale patterns in the following layers, until it reliably characterizes a class of inputs. Here, we demonstrate that with a fixed ratio between the depths of the first and second convolutional layers, the error rates of the generalized shallow LeNet architecture, consisting of only five layers, decay as a power law with the number of filters in the first convolutional layer. The extrapolation of this power law indicates that the generalized LeNet can achieve small error rates that were previously obtained for the CIFAR-10 database using DL architectures. A power law with a similar exponent also characterizes the generalized VGG-16 architecture. However, this results in a significantly increased number of operations required to achieve a given error rate with respect to LeNet. This power law phenomenon governs various generalized LeNet and VGG-16 architectures, hinting at its universal behavior and suggesting a quantitative hierarchical time–space complexity among machine learning architectures. Additionally, the conservation law along the convolutional layers, which is the square-root of their size times their depth, is found to asymptotically minimize error rates. The efficient shallow learning that is demonstrated in this study calls for further quantitative examination using various databases and architectures and its accelerated implementation using future dedicated hardware developments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5423
Number of pages7
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 20 Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
I.K. acknowledges the partial financial support from the Israel Science Foundation (Grant Number 346/22). S.H. acknowledges support from the Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology. We thank Amir Goldental and Roni Vardi for their stimulating discussions.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


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