Soft Threshold Weight Reparameterization for Learnable Sparsity

Published at International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML), 2020

Sparsity in Deep Neural Networks (DNNs) is studied extensively with the focus of maximizing prediction accuracy given an overall parameter budget. Existing methods rely on uniform or heuristic non-uniform sparsity budgets which have sub-optimal layer-wise parameter allocation resulting in a) lower prediction accuracy or b) higher inference cost (FLOPs). This work proposes Soft Threshold Reparameterization (STR), a novel use of the soft-threshold operator on DNN weights. STR smoothly induces sparsity while learning pruning thresholds thereby obtaining a non-uniform sparsity budget. Our method achieves state-of-the-art accuracy for unstructured sparsity in CNNs (ResNet50 and MobileNetV1 on ImageNet-1K), and, additionally, learns non-uniform budgets that empirically reduce the FLOPs by up to 50%. Notably, STR boosts the accuracy over existing results by up to 10% in the ultra sparse (99%) regime and can also be used to induce low-rank (structured sparsity) in RNNs. In short, STR is a simple mechanism which learns effective sparsity budgets that contrast with popular heuristics.

The paper has been accepted at the ICML 2020.

Please find the below resources

  1. ArXiv.
  2. Code and pretrained models.

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