AP: Selective Activation for De-sparsifying Pruned Networks

Published: 12 Sept 2023, Last Modified: 12 Sept 2023Accepted by TMLREveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
Abstract: The rectified linear unit (ReLU) is a highly successful activation function in neural networks as it allows networks to easily obtain sparse representations, which reduces overfitting in overparameterized networks. However, in the context of network pruning, we find that the sparsity introduced by ReLU, which we quantify by a term called dynamic dead neuron rate (DNR), is not beneficial for the pruned network. Interestingly, the more the network is pruned, the smaller the dynamic DNR becomes during and after optimization. This motivates us to propose a method to explicitly reduce the dynamic DNR for the pruned network, i.e., de-sparsify the network. We refer to our method as Activate-while-Pruning (AP). We note that AP does not function as a stand-alone method, as it does not evaluate the importance of weights. Instead, it works in tandem with existing pruning methods and aims to improve their performance by selective activation of nodes to reduce the dynamic DNR. We conduct extensive experiments using various popular networks (e.g., ResNet, VGG, DenseNet, MobileNet) via two classical and three state-of-the-art pruning methods. The experimental results on public datasets (e.g., CIFAR-10, CIFAR-100) suggest that AP works well with existing pruning methods and improves the performance by 3% - 4%. For larger scale datasets (e.g., ImageNet) and state-of-the-art networks (e.g., vision transformer), we observe an improvement of 2% - 3% with AP as opposed to without. Lastly, we conduct an ablation study to examine the effectiveness of the components comprising AP.
Certifications: Featured Certification
Submission Length: Long submission (more than 12 pages of main content)
Changes Since Last Submission: N/A
Code: https://github.com/Martin1937/Activate-While-Pruning
Supplementary Material: pdf
Assigned Action Editor: ~Vincent_Dumoulin1
License: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Submission Number: 1159