Activate or Not: Learning Customized Activation

CVPR 2021  ·  Ningning Ma, Xiangyu Zhang, Ming Liu, Jian Sun ·

We present a simple, effective, and general activation function we term ACON which learns to activate the neurons or not. Interestingly, we find Swish, the recent popular NAS-searched activation, can be interpreted as a smooth approximation to ReLU. Intuitively, in the same way, we approximate the more general Maxout family to our novel ACON family, which remarkably improves the performance and makes Swish a special case of ACON. Next, we present meta-ACON, which explicitly learns to optimize the parameter switching between non-linear (activate) and linear (inactivate) and provides a new design space. By simply changing the activation function, we show its effectiveness on both small models and highly optimized large models (e.g. it improves the ImageNet top-1 accuracy rate by 6.7% and 1.8% on MobileNet-0.25 and ResNet-152, respectively). Moreover, our novel ACON can be naturally transferred to object detection and semantic segmentation, showing that ACON is an effective alternative in a variety of tasks. Code is available at

PDF Abstract CVPR 2021 PDF CVPR 2021 Abstract


Results from the Paper

  Submit results from this paper to get state-of-the-art GitHub badges and help the community compare results to other papers.