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Self-Born Wiring for Neural Trees
Neural trees aim at integrating deep neural networks and decision trees so as to bring the best of the two worlds, including representation learning from the former and faster inference from the latter. In this paper, we introduce a novel approach, termed as Self-born Wiring (SeBoW), to learn neural trees from a mother deep neural network. In contrast to prior neural-tree approaches that either adopt a pre-defined structure or grow hierarchical layers in a progressive manner, task-adaptive neural trees in SeBoW evolve from a deep neural network through a construction-by-destruction process, enabling a global-level parameter optimization that further yields favorable results. Specifically, given a designated network configuration like VGG, SeBoW disconnects all the layers and derives isolated filter groups, based on which a global-level wiring process is conducted to attach a subset of filter groups, eventually bearing a lightweight neural tree. Extensive experiments demonstrate that, with a lower computational cost, SeBoW outperforms all prior neural trees by a significant margin and even achieves results on par with predominant non-tree networks like ResNets. Moreover, SeBoW proves its scalability to large-scale datasets like ImageNet, which has been barely explored by prior tree networks.