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Pruning by Explaining: A Novel Criterion for Deep Neural Network Pruning

by   Seul-Ki Yeom, et al.

The success of convolutional neural networks (CNNs) in various applications is accompanied by a significant increase in computation and parameter storage costs. Recent efforts to reduce these overheads involve pruning and compressing the weights of various layers while at the same time aiming to not sacrifice performance. In this paper, we propose a novel criterion for CNN pruning inspired by neural network interpretability: The most relevant elements, i.e. weights or filters, are automatically found using their relevance score in the sense of explainable AI (XAI). By that we for the first time link the two disconnected lines of interpretability and model compression research. We show in particular that our proposed method can efficiently prune transfer-learned CNN models where networks pre-trained on large corpora are adapted to specialized tasks. To this end, the method is evaluated on a broad range of computer vision datasets. Notably, our novel criterion is not only competitive or better compared to state-of-the-art pruning criteria when successive retraining is performed, but clearly outperforms these previous criteria in the common application setting where the data of the task to be transferred to are very scarce and no retraining is possible. Our method can iteratively compress the model while maintaining or even improving accuracy. At the same time, it has a computational cost in the order of gradient computation and is comparatively simple to apply without the need for tuning hyperparameters for pruning.


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