Collaboration by Competition: Self-coordinated Knowledge Amalgamation for Multi-talent Student Learning

A vast number of well-trained deep networks have been released by developers online for plug-and-play use. These networks specialize in different tasks and in many cases, the data and annotations used to train them are not publicly available. In this paper, we study how to reuse such heterogeneous pre-trained models as teachers, and build a versatile and compact student model, without accessing human annotations. To this end, we propose a self-coordinate knowledge amalgamation network (SOKA-Net) for learning the multi-talent student model. This is achieved via a dual-step adaptive competitive-cooperation training approach, where the knowledge of the heterogeneous teachers are in the first step amalgamated to guide the shared parameter learning of the student network, and followed by a gradient-based competition-balancing strategy to learn the multi-head prediction network as well as the loss weightings of the distinct tasks in the second step. The two steps, which we term as the collaboration and competition step respectively, are performed alternatively until the balance of the competition is reached for the ultimate collaboration. Experimental results demonstrate that, the learned student not only comes with a smaller size but all achieves performances on par with or even superior to those of the teachers.

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