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IEEE Trans Cybern. 2019 Aug 27. doi: 10.1109/TCYB.2019.2933477. [Epub ahead of print]

Asymptotic Soft Filter Pruning for Deep Convolutional Neural Networks.


Deeper and wider convolutional neural networks (CNNs) achieve superior performance but bring expensive computation cost. Accelerating such overparameterized neural network has received increased attention. A typical pruning algorithm is a three-stage pipeline, i.e., training, pruning, and retraining. Prevailing approaches fix the pruned filters to zero during retraining and, thus, significantly reduce the optimization space. Besides, they directly prune a large number of filters at first, which would cause unrecoverable information loss. To solve these problems, we propose an asymptotic soft filter pruning (ASFP) method to accelerate the inference procedure of the deep neural networks. First, we update the pruned filters during the retraining stage. As a result, the optimization space of the pruned model would not be reduced but be the same as that of the original model. In this way, the model has enough capacity to learn from the training data. Second, we prune the network asymptotically. We prune few filters at first and asymptotically prune more filters during the training procedure. With asymptotic pruning, the information of the training set would be gradually concentrated in the remaining filters, so the subsequent training and pruning process would be stable. The experiments show the effectiveness of our ASFP on image classification benchmarks. Notably, on ILSVRC-2012, our ASFP reduces more than 40% FLOPs on ResNet-50 with only 0.14% top-5 accuracy degradation, which is higher than the soft filter pruning by 8%.


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