Structured Pruning of Neural Networks with Budget-Aware Regularization

Carl Lemaire, Andrew Achkar, Pierre-Marc Jodoin

Pruning methods have shown to be effective at reducing the size of deep neural networks while keeping accuracy almost intact. Among the most effective methods are those that prune a network while training it with a sparsity prior loss and learnable dropout parameters. A shortcoming of these approaches however is that neither the size nor the inference speed of the pruned network can be controlled directly; yet this is a key feature for targeting deployment of CNNs on low-power hardware. To overcome this, we introduce a budgeted regularized pruning framework for deep CNNs. Our approach naturally fits into traditional neural network training as it consists of a learnable masking layer, a novel budget-aware objective function, and the use of knowledge distillation. We also provide insights on how to prune a residual network and how this can lead to new architectures. Experimental results reveal that CNNs pruned with our method are more accurate and less compute-hungry than state-of-the-art methods. Also, our approach is more effective at preventing accuracy collapse in case of severe pruning; this allows us to attain pruning factors up to 16x without significant accuracy drop.

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