- Abstract: Efficient performance estimation of architectures drawn from large search spaces is essential to Neural Architecture Search. One-Shot methods tackle this challenge by training one supernet to approximate the performance of every architecture in the search space via weight-sharing, thereby drastically reducing the search cost. However, due to coupled optimization between child architectures caused by weight-sharing, One-Shot supernet's performance estimation could be inaccurate, leading to degraded search outcomes. To address this issue, Few-Shot NAS reduces the level of weight-sharing by splitting the One-Shot supernet into multiple separated sub-supernets via edge-wise (layer-wise) exhaustive partitioning. Since each partition of the supernet is not equally important, it necessitates the design of a more effective splitting criterion. In this work, we propose a gradient matching score (GM) that leverages gradient information at the shared weight for making informed splitting decisions. Intuitively, gradients from different child models can be used to identify whether they agree on how to update the shared modules, and subsequently to decide if they should share weight. Compared with exhaustive partitioning, the proposed criterion significantly reduces the branching factor per edge. This allows us to split more edges (layers) for a given budget, resulting in substantially improved performance as NAS search spaces usually include dozens of edges (layers). Extensive empirical evaluations of the proposed method on a wide range of search spaces (NASBench-201, DARTS, MobileNet Space), datasets (cifar10, cifar100, ImageNet), and search algorithms (DARTS, SNAS, RSPS, ProxylessNAS, OFA) demonstrate that it significantly outperforms its Few-Shot and One-Shot counterparts while surpassing previous comparable methods in terms of the accuracy of derived architectures.
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