Ex uno plures: Splitting One Model into an Ensemble of Subnetworks

Zhilu Zhang, Vianne R. Gao, Mert R. Sabuncu

Monte Carlo (MC) dropout is a simple and efficient ensembling method that can improve the accuracy and confidence calibration of high-capacity deep neural network models. However, MC dropout is not as effective as more compute-intensive methods such as deep ensembles. This performance gap can be attributed to the relatively poor quality of individual models in the MC dropout ensemble and their lack of diversity. These issues can in turn be traced back to the coupled training and substantial parameter sharing of the dropout models. Motivated by this perspective, we propose a strategy to compute an ensemble of subnetworks, each corresponding to a non-overlapping dropout mask computed via a pruning strategy and trained independently. We show that the proposed subnetwork ensembling method can perform as well as standard deep ensembles in both accuracy and uncertainty estimates, yet with a computational efficiency similar to MC dropout. Lastly, using several computer vision datasets like CIFAR10/100, CUB200, and Tiny-Imagenet, we experimentally demonstrate that subnetwork ensembling also consistently outperforms recently proposed approaches that efficiently ensemble neural networks.

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