Multi-Objective Evolutionary Design of Deep Convolutional Neural Networks for Image Classification

Early advancements in convolutional neural networks (CNNs) architectures are primarily driven by human expertise and by elaborate design processes. Recently, neural architecture search was proposed with the aim of automating the network design process and generating task-dependent architectures. While existing approaches have achieved competitive performance in image classification, they are not well suited to problems where the computational budget is limited for two reasons: (1) the obtained architectures are either solely optimized for classification performance, or only for one deployment scenario; (2) the search process requires vast computational resources in most approaches. To overcome these limitations, we propose an evolutionary algorithm for searching neural architectures under multiple objectives, such as classification performance and floating-point operations (FLOPs). The proposed method addresses the first shortcoming by populating a set of architectures to approximate the entire Pareto frontier through genetic operations that recombine and modify architectural components progressively. Our approach improves computational efficiency by carefully down-scaling the architectures during the search as well as reinforcing the patterns commonly shared among past successful architectures through Bayesian model learning. The integration of these two main contributions allows an efficient design of architectures that are competitive and in most cases outperform both manually and automatically designed architectures on benchmark image classification datasets: CIFAR, ImageNet, and human chest X-ray. The flexibility provided from simultaneously obtaining multiple architecture choices for different compute requirements further differentiates our approach from other methods in the literature. Code is available at

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Results from the Paper

Task Dataset Model Metric Name Metric Value Global Rank Result Benchmark
Pneumonia Detection ChestX-ray14 NSGANetV1-A3 AUROC 0.847 # 1
Params 5.0M # 4
Pneumonia Detection ChestX-ray14 NSGANetV1-X AUROC 0.846 # 2
Params 2.2.M # 1