A common technique for compressing a neural network is to compute the $k$-rank $\ell_2$ approximation $A_{k,2}$ of the matrix $A\in\mathbb{R}^{n\times d}$ that corresponds to a fully connected layer (or embedding layer). Here, $d$ is the number of the neurons in the layer, $n$ is the number in the next one, and $A_{k,2}$ can be stored in $O((n+d)k)$ memory instead of $O(nd)$... This $\ell_2$-approximation minimizes the sum over every entry to the power of $p=2$ in the matrix $A - A_{k,2}$, among every matrix $A_{k,2}\in\mathbb{R}^{n\times d}$ whose rank is $k$. While it can be computed efficiently via SVD, the $\ell_2$-approximation is known to be very sensitive to outliers ("far-away" rows). Hence, machine learning uses e.g. Lasso Regression, $\ell_1$-regularization, and $\ell_1$-SVM that use the $\ell_1$-norm. This paper suggests to replace the $k$-rank $\ell_2$ approximation by $\ell_p$, for $p\in [1,2]$. We then provide practical and provable approximation algorithms to compute it for any $p\geq1$, based on modern techniques in computational geometry. Extensive experimental results on the GLUE benchmark for compressing BERT, DistilBERT, XLNet, and RoBERTa confirm this theoretical advantage. For example, our approach achieves $28\%$ compression of RoBERTa's embedding layer with only $0.63\%$ additive drop in the accuracy (without fine-tuning) in average over all tasks in GLUE, compared to $11\%$ drop using the existing $\ell_2$-approximation. Open code is provided for reproducing and extending our results. read more

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