Can You Win Everything with A Lottery Ticket?

Published: 14 Sept 2022, Last Modified: 28 Feb 2023Accepted by TMLREveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
Abstract: $\textit{Lottery ticket hypothesis}$ (LTH) has demonstrated to yield independently trainable and highly sparse neural networks (a.k.a. $\textit{winning tickets}$), whose test set accuracies can be surprisingly on par or even better than dense models. However, accuracy is far from the only evaluation metric, and perhaps not always the most important one. Hence it might be myopic to conclude that a sparse subnetwork can replace its dense counterpart, even if the accuracy is preserved. Spurred by that, we perform the first comprehensive assessment of lottery tickets from diverse aspects beyond test accuracy, including $\textit{(i)}$ generalization to distribution shifts, $\textit{(ii)}$ prediction uncertainty, $\textit{(iii)}$ interpretability, and $\textit{(iv)}$ geometry of loss landscapes. With extensive experiments across datasets {CIFAR-10, CIFAR-100, and ImageNet}, model architectures, as well as tens of sparsification methods, we thoroughly characterize the trade-off between model sparsity and the all-dimension model capabilities. We find that an appropriate sparsity (e.g., $20\%\sim99.08\%$) can yield the winning ticket to perform comparably or even better $\textbf{in all above four aspects}$, although some aspects (generalization to certain distribution shifts, and uncertainty) appear more sensitive to the sparsification than others. We term it as a $\texttt{LTH-PASS}$. Overall, our results endorse choosing a good sparse subnetwork of a larger dense model, over directly training a small dense model of similar parameter counts. We hope that our study can offer more in-depth insights on pruning, for researchers and engineers who seek to incorporate sparse neural networks for user-facing deployments. Codes are available in:
License: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Submission Length: Regular submission (no more than 12 pages of main content)
Assigned Action Editor: ~Hanie_Sedghi1
Submission Number: 222