Neural Architecture Search with Random Labels

Xuanyang Zhang, Pengfei Hou, Xiangyu Zhang, Jian Sun

In this paper, we investigate a new variant of neural architecture search (NAS) paradigm -- searching with random labels (RLNAS). The task sounds counter-intuitive for most existing NAS algorithms since random label provides few information on the performance of each candidate architecture. Instead, we propose a novel NAS framework based on ease-of-convergence hypothesis, which requires only random labels during searching. The algorithm involves two steps: first, we train a SuperNet using random labels; second, from the SuperNet we extract the sub-network whose weights change most significantly during the training. Extensive experiments are evaluated on multiple datasets (e.g. NAS-Bench-201 and ImageNet) and multiple search spaces (e.g. DARTS-like and MobileNet-like). Very surprisingly, RLNAS achieves comparable or even better results compared with state-of-the-art NAS methods such as PC-DARTS, Single Path One-Shot, even though the counterparts utilize full ground truth labels for searching. We hope our finding could inspire new understandings on the essential of NAS.

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