Distilling Spikes: Knowledge Distillation in Spiking Neural Networks

Ravi Kumar Kushawaha, Saurabh Kumar, Biplab Banerjee, Rajbabu Velmurugan

Spiking Neural Networks (SNN) are energy-efficient computing architectures that exchange spikes for processing information, unlike classical Artificial Neural Networks (ANN). Due to this, SNNs are better suited for real-life deployments. However, similar to ANNs, SNNs also benefit from deeper architectures to obtain improved performance. Furthermore, like the deep ANNs, the memory, compute and power requirements of SNNs also increase with model size, and model compression becomes a necessity. Knowledge distillation is a model compression technique that enables transferring the learning of a large machine learning model to a smaller model with minimal loss in performance. In this paper, we propose techniques for knowledge distillation in spiking neural networks for the task of image classification. We present ways to distill spikes from a larger SNN, also called the teacher network, to a smaller one, also called the student network, while minimally impacting the classification accuracy. We demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed method with detailed experiments on three standard datasets while proposing novel distillation methodologies and loss functions. We also present a multi-stage knowledge distillation technique for SNNs using an intermediate network to obtain higher performance from the student network. Our approach is expected to open up new avenues for deploying high performing large SNN models on resource-constrained hardware platforms.

Knowledge Graph

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