ReCU: Reviving the Dead Weights in Binary Neural Networks

Zihan Xu, Mingbao Lin, Jianzhuang Liu, Jie Chen, Ling Shao, Yue Gao, Yonghong Tian, Rongrong Ji; Proceedings of the IEEE/CVF International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV), 2021, pp. 5198-5208


Binary neural networks (BNNs) have received increasing attention due to their superior reductions of computation and memory. Most existing works focus on either lessening the quantization error by minimizing the gap between the full-precision weights and their binarization or designing a gradient approximation to mitigate the gradient mismatch, while leaving the "dead weights" untouched. This leads to slow convergence when training BNNs. In this paper, for the first time, we explore the influence of "dead weights" which refer to a group of weights that are barely updated during the training of BNNs, and then introduce rectified clamp unit (ReCU) to revive the "dead weights" for updating. We prove that reviving the "dead weights" by ReCU can result in a smaller quantization error. Besides, we also take into account the information entropy of the weights, and then mathematically analyze why the weight standardization can benefit BNNs. We demonstrate the inherent contradiction between minimizing the quantization error and maximizing the information entropy, and then propose an adaptive exponential scheduler to identify the range of the "dead weights". By considering the "dead weights", our method offers not only faster BNN training, but also state-of-the-art performance on CIFAR-10 and ImageNet, compared with recent methods. Code can be available at

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@InProceedings{Xu_2021_ICCV, author = {Xu, Zihan and Lin, Mingbao and Liu, Jianzhuang and Chen, Jie and Shao, Ling and Gao, Yue and Tian, Yonghong and Ji, Rongrong}, title = {ReCU: Reviving the Dead Weights in Binary Neural Networks}, booktitle = {Proceedings of the IEEE/CVF International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV)}, month = {October}, year = {2021}, pages = {5198-5208} }