- Abstract: While bigger and deeper neural network architectures continue to advance the state-of-the-art for many computer vision tasks, real-world adoption of these networks is impeded by hardware and speed constraints. Conventional model compression methods attempt to address this problem by modifying the architecture manually or using pre-defined heuristics. Since the space of all reduced architectures is very large, modifying the architecture of a deep neural network in this way is a difficult task. In this paper, we tackle this issue by introducing a principled method for learning reduced network architectures in a data-driven way using reinforcement learning. Our approach takes a larger 'teacher' network as input and outputs a compressed 'student' network derived from the 'teacher' network. In the first stage of our method, a recurrent policy network aggressively removes layers from the large 'teacher' model. In the second stage, another recurrent policy network carefully reduces the size of each remaining layer. The resulting network is then evaluated to obtain a reward -- a score based on the accuracy and compression of the network. Our approach uses this reward signal with policy gradients to train the policies to find a locally optimal student network. Our experiments show that we can achieve compression rates of more than 10x for models such as ResNet-34 while maintaining similar performance to the input 'teacher' network. We also present a valuable transfer learning result which shows that policies which are pre-trained on smaller 'teacher' networks can be used to rapidly speed up training on larger 'teacher' networks.
- TL;DR: A novel reinforcement learning based approach to compress deep neural networks with knowledge distillation
- Keywords: Deep learning, Neural networks, Model compression