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Jointly Training and Pruning CNNs via Learnable Agent Guidance and Alignment

Alireza Ganjdanesh · Shangqian Gao · Heng Huang

Arch 4A-E Poster #139
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Thu 20 Jun 5 p.m. PDT — 6:30 p.m. PDT


Structural model pruning is a prominent approach used for reducing the computational cost of Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) before their deployment on resource-constrained devices. Yet, the majority of proposed ideas require a pretrained model before pruning, which is costly to secure. In this paper, we propose a novel structural pruning approach to jointly learn the weights and structurally prune architectures of CNN models. The core element of our method is a Reinforcement Learning (RL) agent whose actions determine the pruning ratios of the CNN model's layers, and the resulting model's accuracy serves as its reward. We conduct the joint training and pruning by iteratively training the model's weights and the agent's policy, and we regularize the model's weights to align with the selected structure by the agent. The evolving model's weights result in a dynamic reward function for the agent, which prevents using prominent episodic RL methods with stationary environment assumption for our purpose. We address this challenge by designing a mechanism to model the complex changing dynamics of the reward function and provide a representation of it to the RL agent. To do so, we take a learnable embedding for each training epoch and employ a recurrent model to calculate a representation of the changing environment. We train the recurrent model and embeddings using a decoder model to reconstruct observed rewards. Such a design empowers our agent to effectively leverage episodic observations along with the environment representations to learn a proper policy to determine performant sub-networks of the CNN model. Our extensive experiments on CIFAR-10 and ImageNet using ResNets and MobileNets demonstrate the effectiveness of our method.

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