AutoFormer: Searching Transformers for Visual Recognition

Minghao Chen, Houwen Peng, Jianlong Fu, Haibin Ling; Proceedings of the IEEE/CVF International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV), 2021, pp. 12270-12280


Recently, pure transformer-based models have shown great potentials for vision tasks such as image classification and detection. However, the design of transformer networks is challenging. It has been observed that the depth, embedding dimension, and number of heads can largely affect the performance of vision transformers. Previous models configure these dimensions based upon manual crafting. In this work, we propose a new one-shot architecture search framework, namely AutoFormer, dedicated to vision transformer search. AutoFormer entangles the weights of different blocks in the same layers during supernet training. Benefiting from the strategy, the trained supernet allows thousands of subnets to be very well-trained. Specifically, the performance of these subnets with weights inherited from the supernet is comparable to those retrained from scratch. Besides, the searched models, which we refer to AutoFormers, surpass the recent state-of-the-arts such as ViT and DeiT. In particular, AutoFormer-tiny/small/base achieve 74.7%/81.7%/82.4% top-1 accuracy on ImageNet with 5.7M/22.9M/53.7M parameters, respectively. Lastly, we verify the transferability of AutoFormer by providing the performance on downstream benchmarks and distillation experiments. Code and models are available at

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@InProceedings{Chen_2021_ICCV, author = {Chen, Minghao and Peng, Houwen and Fu, Jianlong and Ling, Haibin}, title = {AutoFormer: Searching Transformers for Visual Recognition}, booktitle = {Proceedings of the IEEE/CVF International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV)}, month = {October}, year = {2021}, pages = {12270-12280} }