Sparse Networks from Scratch: Faster Training without Losing PerformanceDownload PDF

Sep 25, 2019 (edited Dec 24, 2019)ICLR 2020 Conference Blind SubmissionReaders: Everyone
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  • Keywords: sparse learning, sparse networks, sparsity, efficient deep learning, efficient training
  • TL;DR: Redistributing and growing weights according to the momentum magnitude enables the training of sparse networks from random initializations that can reach dense performance levels with 5% to 50% weights while accelerating training by up to 5.6x.
  • Abstract: We demonstrate the possibility of what we call sparse learning: accelerated training of deep neural networks that maintain sparse weights throughout training while achieving dense performance levels. We accomplish this by developing sparse momentum, an algorithm which uses exponentially smoothed gradients (momentum) to identify layers and weights which reduce the error efficiently. Sparse momentum redistributes pruned weights across layers according to the mean momentum magnitude of each layer. Within a layer, sparse momentum grows weights according to the momentum magnitude of zero-valued weights. We demonstrate state-of-the-art sparse performance on MNIST, CIFAR-10, and ImageNet, decreasing the mean error by a relative 8%, 15%, and 6% compared to other sparse algorithms. Furthermore, we show that sparse momentum reliably reproduces dense performance levels while providing up to 5.61x faster training. In our analysis, ablations show that the benefits of momentum redistribution and growth increase with the depth and size of the network.
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