One Forward is Enough for Neural Network Training via Likelihood Ratio Method

Published: 16 Jan 2024, Last Modified: 13 Apr 2024ICLR 2024 posterEveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
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Keywords: stochastic optimization, gradient estimation
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Abstract: While backpropagation (BP) is the mainstream approach for gradient computation in neural network training, its heavy reliance on the chain rule of differentiation constrains the designing flexibility of network architecture and training pipelines. We avoid the recursive computation in BP and develop a unified likelihood ratio (ULR) method for gradient estimation with only one forward propagation. Not only can ULR be extended to train a wide variety of neural network architectures, but the computation flow in BP can also be rearranged by ULR for better device adaptation. Moreover, we propose several variance reduction techniques to further accelerate the training process. Our experiments offer numerical results across diverse aspects, including various neural network training scenarios, computation flow rearrangement, and fine-tuning of pre-trained models. All findings demonstrate that ULR effectively enhances the flexibility of neural network training by permitting localized module training without compromising the global objective and significantly boosts the network robustness.
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Primary Area: optimization
Submission Number: 3655