Weight Rescaling: Effective and Robust Regularization for Deep Neural Networks with Batch Normalization

6 Feb 2021  ·  Ziquan Liu, Yufei Cui, Jia Wan, Yu Mao, Antoni B. Chan ·

Weight decay is often used to ensure good generalization in the training practice of deep neural networks with batch normalization (BN-DNNs), where some convolution layers are invariant to weight rescaling due to the normalization. In this paper, we demonstrate that the practical usage of weight decay still has some unsolved problems in spite of existing theoretical work on explaining the effect of weight decay in BN-DNNs. On the one hand, when the non-adaptive learning rate e.g. SGD with momentum is used, the effective learning rate continues to increase even after the initial training stage, which leads to an overfitting effect in many neural architectures. On the other hand, in both SGDM and adaptive learning rate optimizers e.g. Adam, the effect of weight decay on generalization is quite sensitive to the hyperparameter. Thus, finding an optimal weight decay parameter requires extensive parameter searching. To address those weaknesses, we propose to regularize the weight norm using a simple yet effective weight rescaling (WRS) scheme as an alternative to weight decay. WRS controls the weight norm by explicitly rescaling it to the unit norm, which prevents a large increase to the gradient but also ensures a sufficiently large effective learning rate to improve generalization. On a variety of computer vision applications including image classification, object detection, semantic segmentation and crowd counting, we show the effectiveness and robustness of WRS compared with weight decay, implicit weight rescaling (weight standardization) and gradient projection (AdamP).

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