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Rep-Net: Efficient On-Device Learning via Feature Reprogramming
Transfer learning, where the goal is to transfer the well-trained deep learning models from a primary source task to a new task, is a crucial learning scheme for on-device machine learning, due to the fact that IoT/edge devices collect and then process massive data in our daily life. However, due to the tiny memory constraint in IoT/edge devices, such on-device learning requires ultra-small training memory footprint, bringing new challenges for memory-efficient learning. Many existing works solve this problem by reducing the number of trainable parameters. However, this doesn't directly translate to memory-saving since the major bottleneck is the activations, not parameters. To develop memory-efficient on-device transfer learning, in this work, we are the first to approach the concept of transfer learning from a new perspective of intermediate feature reprogramming of a pre-trained model (i.e., backbone). To perform this lightweight and memory-efficient reprogramming, we propose to train a tiny Reprogramming Network (Rep-Net) directly from the new task input data, while freezing the backbone model. The proposed Rep-Net model interchanges the features with the backbone model using an activation connector at regular intervals to mutually benefit both the backbone model and Rep-Net model features. Through extensive experiments, we validate each design specs of the proposed Rep-Net model in achieving highly memory-efficient on-device reprogramming. Our experiments establish the superior performance (i.e., low training memory and high accuracy) of Rep-Net compared to SOTA on-device transfer learning schemes across multiple benchmarks.