Variational Convolutional Neural Network Pruning

Chenglong Zhao, Bingbing Ni, Jian Zhang, Qiwei Zhao, Wenjun Zhang, Qi Tian; The IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), 2019, pp. 2780-2789


We propose a variational Bayesian scheme for pruning convolutional neural networks in channel level. This idea is motivated by the fact that deterministic value based pruning methods are inherently improper and unstable. In a nutshell, variational technique is introduced to estimate distribution of a newly proposed parameter, called channel saliency, based on this, redundant channels can be removed from model via a simple criterion. The advantages are two-fold: 1) Our method conducts channel pruning without desire of re-training stage, thus improving the computation efficiency. 2) Our method is implemented as a stand-alone module, called variational pruning layer, which can be straightforwardly inserted into off-the-shelf deep learning packages, without any special network design. Extensive experimental results well demonstrate the effectiveness of our method: For CIFAR-10, we perform channel removal on different CNN models up to 74% reduction, which results in significant size reduction and computation saving. For ImageNet, about 40% channels of ResNet-50 are removed without compromising accuracy.

Related Material

author = {Zhao, Chenglong and Ni, Bingbing and Zhang, Jian and Zhao, Qiwei and Zhang, Wenjun and Tian, Qi},
title = {Variational Convolutional Neural Network Pruning},
booktitle = {The IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR)},
month = {June},
year = {2019}