CPT: Efficient Deep Neural Network Training via Cyclic PrecisionDownload PDF

Sep 28, 2020 (edited May 22, 2021)ICLR 2021 SpotlightReaders: Everyone
  • Keywords: Efficient training, low precision training
  • Abstract: Low-precision deep neural network (DNN) training has gained tremendous attention as reducing precision is one of the most effective knobs for boosting DNNs' training time/energy efficiency. In this paper, we attempt to explore low-precision training from a new perspective as inspired by recent findings in understanding DNN training: we conjecture that DNNs' precision might have a similar effect as the learning rate during DNN training, and advocate dynamic precision along the training trajectory for further boosting the time/energy efficiency of DNN training. Specifically, we propose Cyclic Precision Training (CPT) to cyclically vary the precision between two boundary values which can be identified using a simple precision range test within the first few training epochs. Extensive simulations and ablation studies on five datasets and eleven models demonstrate that CPT's effectiveness is consistent across various models/tasks (including classification and language modeling). Furthermore, through experiments and visualization we show that CPT helps to (1) converge to a wider minima with a lower generalization error and (2) reduce training variance which we believe opens up a new design knob for simultaneously improving the optimization and efficiency of DNN training.
  • One-sentence Summary: We propose Cyclic Precision Training towards better accuracy-efficiency trade-offs in DNN training.
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