Design Automation for Efficient Deep Learning Computing Machine Learning

Efficient deep learning computing requires algorithm and hardware co-design to enable specialization: we usually need to change the algorithm to reduce memory footprint and improve energy efficiency. However, the extra degree of freedom from the algorithm makes the design space much larger: it's not only about designing the hardware but also about how to tweak the algorithm to best fit the hardware. Human engineers can hardly exhaust the design space by heuristics. It's labor consuming and sub-optimal. We propose design automation techniques for efficient neural networks. We investigate automatically designing specialized fast models, auto channel pruning, and auto mixed-precision quantization. We demonstrate such learning-based, automated design achieves superior performance and efficiency than rule-based human design. Moreover, we shorten the design cycle by 200x than previous work, so that we can afford to design specialized neural network models for different hardware platforms.

Using AI to Make Better AI

IEEE Spectrum

Since 2017, AI researchers have been using AI neural networks to help design better and faster AI neural networks. Applying AI in pursuit of better AI has, to date, been a largely academic pursuit--mainly because this approach requires tens of thousands of GPU hours. If that's what it takes, it's likely quicker and simpler to design real-world AI applications with the fallible guidance of educated guesswork. Next month, however, a team of MIT researchers will be presenting a so-called "neural architecture search" algorithm that can speed up the AI-optimized AI design process by 240 times or more. That would put faster and more accurate AI within practical reach for a broad class of image recognition algorithms and other related applications.

Path-Level Network Transformation for Efficient Architecture Search Machine Learning

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.

SwiftNet: Using Graph Propagation as Meta-knowledge to Search Highly Representative Neural Architectures Artificial Intelligence

Designing neural architectures for edge devices is subject to constraints of accuracy, inference latency, and computational cost. Traditionally, researchers manually craft deep neural networks to meet the needs of mobile devices. Neural Architecture Search (NAS) was proposed to automate the neural architecture design without requiring extensive domain expertise and significant manual efforts. Recent works utilized NAS to design mobile models by taking into account hardware constraints and achieved state-of-the-art accuracy with fewer parameters and less computational cost measured in Multiply-accumulates (MACs). To find highly compact neural architectures, existing works relies on predefined cells and directly applying width multiplier, which may potentially limit the model flexibility, reduce the useful feature map information, and cause accuracy drop. To conquer this issue, we propose GRAM(GRAph propagation as Meta-knowledge) that adopts fine-grained (node-wise) search method and accumulates the knowledge learned in updates into a meta-graph. As a result, GRAM can enable more flexible search space and achieve higher search efficiency. Without the constraints of predefined cell or blocks, we propose a new structure-level pruning method to remove redundant operations in neural architectures. SwiftNet, which is a set of models discovered by GRAM, outperforms MobileNet-V2 by 2.15x higher accuracy density and 2.42x faster with similar accuracy. Compared with FBNet, SwiftNet reduces the search cost by 26x and achieves 2.35x higher accuracy density and 1.47x speedup while preserving similar accuracy. SwiftNetcan obtain 63.28% top-1 accuracy on ImageNet-1K with only 53M MACs and 2.07M parameters. The corresponding inference latency is only 19.09 ms on Google Pixel 1.

CompactNet: Platform-Aware Automatic Optimization for Convolutional Neural Networks Machine Learning

Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) based Deep Learning (DL) has achieved great progress in many real-life applications. Meanwhile, due to the complex model structures against strict latency and memory restriction, the implementation of CNN models on the resource-limited platforms is becoming more challenging. This work proposes a solution, called CompactNet\footnote{Project URL: \url{}}, which automatically optimizes a pre-trained CNN model on a specific resource-limited platform given a specific target of inference speedup. Guided by a simulator of the target platform, CompactNet progressively trims a pre-trained network by removing certain redundant filters until the target speedup is reached and generates an optimal platform-specific model while maintaining the accuracy. We evaluate our work on two platforms of a mobile ARM CPU and a machine learning accelerator NPU (Cambricon-1A ISA) on a Huawei Mate10 smartphone. For the state-of-the-art slim CNN model made for the embedded platform, MobileNetV2, CompactNet achieves up to a 1.8x kernel computation speedup with equal or even higher accuracy for image classification tasks on the Cifar-10 dataset.