An Information Theory-inspired Strategy for Automatic Network Pruning

Despite superior performance on many computer vision tasks, deep convolution neural networks are well known to be compressed on devices that have resource constraints. Most existing network pruning methods require laborious human efforts and prohibitive computation resources, especially when the constraints are changed. This practically limits the application of model compression when the model needs to be deployed on a wide range of devices. Besides, existing methods are still challenged by the missing theoretical guidance. In this paper we propose an information theory-inspired strategy for automatic model compression. The principle behind our method is the information bottleneck theory, i.e., the hidden representation should compress information with each other. We thus introduce the normalized Hilbert-Schmidt Independence Criterion (nHSIC) on network activations as a stable and generalized indicator of layer importance. When a certain resource constraint is given, we integrate the HSIC indicator with the constraint to transform the architecture search problem into a linear programming problem with quadratic constraints. Such a problem is easily solved by a convex optimization method with a few seconds. We also provide a rigorous proof to reveal that optimizing the normalized HSIC simultaneously minimizes the mutual information between different layers. Without any search process, our method achieves better compression tradeoffs comparing to the state-of-the-art compression algorithms. For instance, with ResNet-50, we achieve a 45.3%-FLOPs reduction, with a 75.75 top-1 accuracy on ImageNet. Codes are avaliable at

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