Architecture Disentanglement for Deep Neural Networks

Jie Hu, Liujuan Cao, Tong Tong, Qixiang Ye, Shengchuan Zhang, Ke Li, Feiyue Huang, Ling Shao, Rongrong Ji; Proceedings of the IEEE/CVF International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV), 2021, pp. 672-681


Understanding the inner workings of deep neural networks (DNNs) is essential to provide trustworthy artificial intelligence techniques for practical applications. Existing studies typically involve linking semantic concepts to units or layers of DNNs, but fail to explain the inference process. In this paper, we introduce neural architecture disentanglement (NAD) to fill the gap. Specifically, NAD learns to disentangle a pre-trained DNN into sub-architectures according to independent tasks, forming information flows that describe the inference processes. We investigate whether, where, and how the disentanglement occurs through experiments conducted with handcrafted and automatically-searched network architectures, on both object-based and scene-based datasets. Based on the experimental results, we present three new findings that provide fresh insights into the inner logic of DNNs. First, DNNs can be divided into sub-architectures for independent tasks. Second, deeper layers do not always correspond to higher semantics. Third, the connection type in a DNN affects how the information flows across layers, leading to different disentanglement behaviors. With NAD, we further explain why DNNs sometimes give wrong predictions. Experimental results show that misclassified images have a high probability of being assigned to task sub-architectures similar to the correct ones. Our code is available at

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@InProceedings{Hu_2021_ICCV, author = {Hu, Jie and Cao, Liujuan and Tong, Tong and Ye, Qixiang and Zhang, Shengchuan and Li, Ke and Huang, Feiyue and Shao, Ling and Ji, Rongrong}, title = {Architecture Disentanglement for Deep Neural Networks}, booktitle = {Proceedings of the IEEE/CVF International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV)}, month = {October}, year = {2021}, pages = {672-681} }