- TL;DR: A method to find winning lottery tickets in early epoch of training, saving computational cost for fast pruning.
- Abstract: The recent success of the lottery ticket hypothesis by Frankle & Carbin (2018) suggests that small, sparsified neural networks can be trained as long as the network is initialized properly. Several follow-up discussions on the initialization of the sparsified model have discovered interesting characteristics such as the necessity of rewinding (Frankle et al. (2019)), importance of sign of the initial weights (Zhou et al. (2019)), and the transferability of the winning lottery tickets (S. Morcos et al. (2019)). In contrast, another essential aspect of the winning ticket, the structure of the sparsified model, has been little discussed. To find the lottery ticket, unfortunately, all the prior work still relies on computationally expensive iterative pruning. In this work, we conduct an in-depth investigation of the structure of winning lottery tickets. Interestingly, we discover that there exist many lottery tickets that can achieve equally good accuracy much before the regular training schedule even finishes. We provide insights into the structure of these early winning tickets with supporting evidence. 1) Under stochastic gradient descent optimization, lottery ticket emerges when weight magnitude of a model saturates; 2) Pruning before the saturation of a model causes the loss of capability in learning complex patterns, resulting in the accuracy degradation. We employ the memorization capacity analysis to quantitatively confirm it, and further explain why gradual pruning can achieve better accuracy over the one-shot pruning. Based on these insights, we discover the early winning tickets for various ResNet architectures on both CIFAR10 and ImageNet, achieving state-of-the-art accuracy at a high pruning rate without expensive iterative pruning. In the case of ResNet50 on ImageNet, this comes to the winning ticket of 75:02% Top-1 accuracy at 80% pruning rate in only 22% of the total epochs for iterative pruning.
- Keywords: pruning, lottery ticket hypothesis, deep neural network, compression, image classification