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Decoupled Greedy Learning of CNNs

Eugene Belilovsky · Michael Eickenberg · Edouard Oyallon

Keywords: [ Neuroscience and Cognitive Science ] [ Parallel and Distributed Learning ] [ Algorithms ] [ Optimization - Large Scale, Parallel and Distributed ]


A commonly cited inefficiency of neural network training by back-propagation is the update locking problem: each layer must wait for the signal to propagate through the network before updating. In recent years multiple authors have considered alternatives that can alleviate this issue. In this context, we consider a simpler, but more effective, substitute that uses minimal feedback, which we call Decoupled Greedy Learning (DGL). It is based on a greedy relaxation of the joint training objective, recently shown to be effective in the context of Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) on large-scale image classification. We consider an optimization of this objective that permits us to decouple the layer training, allowing for layers or modules in networks to be trained with a potentially linear parallelization in layers. We show theoretically and empirically that this approach converges. Then, we empirically find that it can lead to better generalization than sequential greedy optimization and sometimes end-to-end back-propagation. We show an extension of this approach to asynchronous settings, where modules can operate with large communication delays, is possible with the use of a replay buffer. We demonstrate the effectiveness of DGL on the CIFAR-10 dataset against alternatives and on the large-scale ImageNet dataset.

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