Towards Effective Low-Bitwidth Convolutional Neural Networks

Bohan Zhuang, Chunhua Shen, Mingkui Tan, Lingqiao Liu, Ian Reid; Proceedings of the IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), 2018, pp. 7920-7928


This paper tackles the problem of training a deep convolutional neural network with both low-precision weights and low-bitwidth activations. Optimizing a low-precision network is very challenging since the training process can easily get trapped in a poor local minima, which results in substantial accuracy loss. To mitigate this problem, we propose three simple-yet-effective approaches to improve the network training. First, we propose to use a two-stage optimization strategy to progressively find good local minima. Specifically, we propose to first optimize a net with quantized weights and then quantized activations. This is in contrast to the traditional methods which optimize them simultaneously. Second, following a similar spirit of the first method, we propose another progressive optimization approach which progressively decreases the bit-width from high-precision to low-precision during the course of training. Third, we adopt a novel learning scheme to jointly train a full-precision model alongside the low-precision one. By doing so, the full-precision model provides hints to guide the low-precision model training. Extensive experiments on various datasets (ie, CIFAR-100 and ImageNet) show the effectiveness of the proposed methods. To highlight, using our methods to train a 4-bit precision network leads to no performance decrease in comparison with its full-precision counterpart with standard network architectures (ie, AlexNet and ResNet-50).

Related Material

[pdf] [arXiv]
author = {Zhuang, Bohan and Shen, Chunhua and Tan, Mingkui and Liu, Lingqiao and Reid, Ian},
title = {Towards Effective Low-Bitwidth Convolutional Neural Networks},
booktitle = {Proceedings of the IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR)},
month = {June},
year = {2018}