Even your Teacher Needs Guidance: Ground-Truth Targets Dampen Regularization Imposed by Self-DistillationDownload PDF

Published: 09 Nov 2021, Last Modified: 05 May 2023NeurIPS 2021 PosterReaders: Everyone
Keywords: Knowledge Distillation, Self Distillation, Kernel Ridge Regression, Statistical Learning, Theory
Abstract: Knowledge distillation is classically a procedure where a neural network is trained on the output of another network along with the original targets in order to transfer knowledge between the architectures. The special case of self-distillation, where the network architectures are identical, has been observed to improve generalization accuracy. In this paper, we consider an iterative variant of self-distillation in a kernel regression setting, in which successive steps incorporate both model outputs and the ground-truth targets. This allows us to provide the first theoretical results on the importance of using the weighted ground-truth targets in self-distillation. Our focus is on fitting nonlinear functions to training data with a weighted mean square error objective function suitable for distillation, subject to $\ell_2$ regularization of the model parameters. We show that any such function obtained with self-distillation can be calculated directly as a function of the initial fit, and that infinite distillation steps yields the same optimization problem as the original with amplified regularization. Furthermore, we provide a closed form solution for the optimal choice of weighting parameter at each step, and show how to efficiently estimate this weighting parameter for deep learning and significantly reduce the computational requirements compared to a grid search.
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TL;DR: Self-distillation amplify regularization with each step, but including the weighted ground-truth dampens this regularization.
Supplementary Material: pdf
Code: https://github.com/Kennethborup/self_distillation
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