SBNet: Sparse Blocks Network for Fast Inference

Mengye Ren, Andrei Pokrovsky, Bin Yang, Raquel Urtasun; Proceedings of the IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), 2018, pp. 8711-8720


Conventional deep convolutional neural networks (CNNs) apply convolution operators uniformly in space across all feature maps for hundreds of layers - this incurs a high computational cost for real-time applications. For many problems such as object detection and semantic segmentation, we are able to obtain a low-cost computation mask, either from a priori problem knowledge, or from a low-resolution segmentation network. We show that such computation masks can be used to reduce computation in the high-resolution main network. Variants of sparse activation CNNs have previously been explored on small-scale tasks and showed no degradation in terms of object classification accuracy, but often measured gains in terms of theoretical FLOPs without realizing a practical speed-up when compared to highly optimized dense convolution implementations. In this work, we leverage the sparsity structure of computation masks and propose a novel tiling-based sparse convolution algorithm. We verified the effectiveness of our sparse CNN on LiDAR-based 3D object detection, and we report significant wall-clock speed-ups compared to dense convolution without noticeable loss of accuracy.

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author = {Ren, Mengye and Pokrovsky, Andrei and Yang, Bin and Urtasun, Raquel},
title = {SBNet: Sparse Blocks Network for Fast Inference},
booktitle = {Proceedings of the IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR)},
month = {June},
year = {2018}