Trading Positional Complexity vs. Deepness in Coordinate Networks

by   Jianqiao Zheng, et al.

It is well noted that coordinate-based MLPs benefit – in terms of preserving high-frequency information – through the encoding of coordinate positions as an array of Fourier features. Hitherto, the rationale for the effectiveness of these positional encodings has been mainly studied through a Fourier lens. In this paper, we strive to broaden this understanding by showing that alternative non-Fourier embedding functions can indeed be used for positional encoding. Moreover, we show that their performance is entirely determined by a trade-off between the stable rank of the embedded matrix and the distance preservation between embedded coordinates. We further establish that the now ubiquitous Fourier feature mapping of position is a special case that fulfills these conditions. Consequently, we present a more general theory to analyze positional encoding in terms of shifted basis functions. In addition, we argue that employing a more complex positional encoding – that scales exponentially with the number of modes – requires only a linear (rather than deep) coordinate function to achieve comparable performance. Counter-intuitively, we demonstrate that trading positional embedding complexity for network deepness is orders of magnitude faster than current state-of-the-art; despite the additional embedding complexity. To this end, we develop the necessary theoretical formulae and empirically verify that our theoretical claims hold in practice.


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