On the Orthogonality of Knowledge Distillation with Other Techniques: From an Ensemble Perspective

To put a state-of-the-art neural network to practical use, it is necessary to design a model that has a good trade-off between the resource consumption and performance on the test set. Many researchers and engineers are developing methods that enable training or designing a model more efficiently. Developing an efficient model includes several strategies such as network architecture search, pruning, quantization, knowledge distillation, utilizing cheap convolution, regularization, and also includes any craft that leads to a better performance-resource trade-off. When combining these technologies together, it would be ideal if one source of performance improvement does not conflict with others. We call this property as the orthogonality in model efficiency. In this paper, we focus on knowledge distillation and demonstrate that knowledge distillation methods are orthogonal to other efficiency-enhancing methods both analytically and empirically. Analytically, we claim that knowledge distillation functions analogous to a ensemble method, bootstrap aggregating. This analytical explanation is provided from the perspective of implicit data augmentation property of knowledge distillation. Empirically, we verify knowledge distillation as a powerful apparatus for practical deployment of efficient neural network, and also introduce ways to integrate it with other methods effectively.

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