The Role of Regularization in Shaping Weight and Node Pruning Dependency and Dynamics

Yael Ben-Guigui, Jacob Goldberger, Tammy Riklin-Raviv

The pressing need to reduce the capacity of deep neural networks has stimulated the development of network dilution methods and their analysis. While the ability of $L_1$ and $L_0$ regularization to encourage sparsity is often mentioned, $L_2$ regularization is seldom discussed in this context. We present a novel framework for weight pruning by sampling from a probability function that favors the zeroing of smaller weights. In addition, we examine the contribution of $L_1$ and $L_2$ regularization to the dynamics of node pruning while optimizing for weight pruning. We then demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed stochastic framework when used together with a weight decay regularizer on popular classification models in removing 50% of the nodes in an MLP for MNIST classification, 60% of the filters in VGG-16 for CIFAR10 classification, and on medical image models in removing 60% of the channels in a U-Net for instance segmentation and 50% of the channels in CNN model for COVID-19 detection. For these node-pruned networks, we also present competitive weight pruning results that are only slightly less accurate than the original, dense networks.

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