We propose a novel neural architecture search algorithm via reinforcement learning by decoupling structure and operation search processes. Our approach samples candidate models from the multinomial distribution on the policy vectors defined on the two search spaces independently. The proposed technique improves the efficiency of architecture search process significantly compared to the conventional methods based on reinforcement learning with the RNN controllers while achieving competitive accuracy and model size in target tasks. Our policy vectors are easily interpretable throughout the training procedure, which allows to analyze the search progress and the discovered architectures; the black-box characteristics of the RNN controllers hamper understanding training progress in terms of policy parameter updates. Our experiments demonstrate outstanding performance compared to the state-of-the-art methods with a fraction of search cost.
Neural networks are powerful and flexible models that work well for many difficult learning tasks in image, speech and natural language understanding. Despite their success, neural networks are still hard to design. In this paper, we use a recurrent network to generate the model descriptions of neural networks and train this RNN with reinforcement learning to maximize the expected accuracy of the generated architectures on a validation set. On the CIFAR-10 dataset, our method, starting from scratch, can design a novel network architecture that rivals the best human-invented architecture in terms of test set accuracy. Our CIFAR-10 model achieves a test error rate of 3.65, which is 0.09 percent better and 1.05x faster than the previous state-of-the-art model that used a similar architectural scheme. On the Penn Treebank dataset, our model can compose a novel recurrent cell that outperforms the widely-used LSTM cell, and other state-of-the-art baselines. Our cell achieves a test set perplexity of 62.4 on the Penn Treebank, which is 3.6 perplexity better than the previous state-of-the-art model. The cell can also be transferred to the character language modeling task on PTB and achieves a state-of-the-art perplexity of 1.214.
Developing neural network image classification models often requires significant architecture engineering. In this paper, we attempt to automate this engineering process by learning the model architectures directly on the dataset of interest. As this approach is expensive when the dataset is large, we propose to search for an architectural building block on a small dataset and then transfer the block to a larger dataset. Our key contribution is the design of a new search space which enables transferability. In our experiments, we search for the best convolutional layer (or "cell") on the CIFAR-10 dataset and then apply this cell to the ImageNet dataset by stacking together more copies of this cell, each with their own parameters. Although the cell is not searched for directly on ImageNet, an architecture constructed from the best cell achieves, among the published works, state-of-the-art accuracy of 82.7% top-1 and 96.2% top-5 on ImageNet. Our model is 1.2% better in top-1 accuracy than the best human-invented architectures while having 9 billion fewer FLOPS -- a reduction of 28% in computational demand from the previous state-of-the-art model. When evaluated at different levels of computational cost, accuracies of our models exceed those of the state-of-the-art human-designed models. For instance, a smaller network constructed from the best cell also achieves 74% top-1 accuracy, which is 3.1% better than equivalently-sized, state-of-the-art models for mobile platforms. On CIFAR-10, an architecture constructed from the best cell achieves 2.4% error rate, which is also state-of-the-art. Finally, the image features learned from image classification can also be transferred to other computer vision problems. On the task of object detection, the learned features used with the Faster-RCNN framework surpass state-of-the-art by 4.0% achieving 43.1% mAP on the COCO dataset.
We introduce a new function-preserving transformation for efficient neural architecture search. This network transformation allows reusing previously trained networks and existing successful architectures that improves sample efficiency. We aim to address the limitation of current network transformation operations that can only perform layer-level architecture modifications, such as adding (pruning) filters or inserting (removing) a layer, which fails to change the topology of connection paths. Our proposed path-level transformation operations enable the meta-controller to modify the path topology of the given network while keeping the merits of reusing weights, and thus allow efficiently designing effective structures with complex path topologies like Inception models. We further propose a bidirectional tree-structured reinforcement learning meta-controller to explore a simple yet highly expressive tree-structured architecture space that can be viewed as a generalization of multi-branch architectures. We experimented on the image classification datasets with limited computational resources (about 200 GPU-hours), where we observed improved parameter efficiency and better test results (97.70% test accuracy on CIFAR-10 with 14.3M parameters and 74.6% top-1 accuracy on ImageNet in the mobile setting), demonstrating the effectiveness and transferability of our designed architectures.
Learning text representation is crucial for text classification and other language related tasks. There are a diverse set of text representation networks in the literature, and how to find the optimal one is a non-trivial problem. Recently, the emerging Neural Architecture Search (NAS) techniques have demonstrated good potential to solve the problem. Nevertheless, most of the existing works of NAS focus on the search algorithms and pay little attention to the search space. In this paper, we argue that the search space is also an important human prior to the success of NAS in different applications. Thus, we propose a novel search space tailored for text representation. Through automatic search, the discovered network architecture outperforms state-of-the-art models on various public datasets on text classification and natural language inference tasks. Furthermore, some of the design principles found in the automatic network agree well with human intuition.