How Much Pre-training Is Enough to Discover a Good Subnetwork?

Published: 04 Mar 2024, Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024Accepted by TMLREveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
Abstract: Neural network pruning helps discover efficient, high-performing subnetworks within pre-trained, dense network architectures. More often than not, it involves a three-step process—pre-training, pruning, and re-training—that is computationally expensive, as the dense model must be fully pre-trained. While previous work has revealed through experiments the relationship between the amount of pre-training and the performance of the pruned network, a theoretical characterization of such dependency is still missing. Aiming to mathematically analyze the amount of dense network pre-training needed for a pruned network to perform well, we discover a simple theoretical bound in the number of gradient descent pre-training iterations on a two-layer fully connected network in the NTK regime, beyond which pruning via greedy forward selection \citep{provable_subnetworks} yields a subnetwork that achieves good training error. Interestingly, this threshold is logarithmically dependent upon the size of the dataset, meaning that experiments with larger datasets require more pre-training for subnetworks obtained via pruning to perform well. Lastly, we empirically validate our theoretical results on multi-layer perceptions and residual-based convolutional networks trained on MNIST, CIFAR, and ImageNet datasets.
Submission Length: Regular submission (no more than 12 pages of main content)
Supplementary Material: zip
Assigned Action Editor: ~Ozan_Sener1
License: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Submission Number: 1757