Revisiting Data Augmentation in Model Compression: An Empirical and Comprehensive Study

Muzhou Yu, Linfeng Zhang, Kaisheng Ma

The excellent performance of deep neural networks is usually accompanied by a large number of parameters and computations, which have limited their usage on the resource-limited edge devices. To address this issue, abundant methods such as pruning, quantization and knowledge distillation have been proposed to compress neural networks and achieved significant breakthroughs. However, most of these compression methods focus on the architecture or the training method of neural networks but ignore the influence from data augmentation. In this paper, we revisit the usage of data augmentation in model compression and give a comprehensive study on the relation between model sizes and their optimal data augmentation policy. To sum up, we mainly have the following three observations: (A) Models in different sizes prefer data augmentation with different magnitudes. Hence, in iterative pruning, data augmentation with varying magnitudes leads to better performance than data augmentation with a consistent magnitude. (B) Data augmentation with a high magnitude may significantly improve the performance of large models but harm the performance of small models. Fortunately, small models can still benefit from strong data augmentations by firstly learning them with "additional parameters" and then discard these "additional parameters" during inference. (C) The prediction of a pre-trained large model can be utilized to measure the difficulty of data augmentation. Thus it can be utilized as a criterion to design better data augmentation policies. We hope this paper may promote more research on the usage of data augmentation in model compression.

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