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SDQ: Stochastic Differentiable Quantization with Mixed Precision

Xijie Huang · Zhiqiang Shen · Shichao Li · Zechun Liu · Hu Xianghong · Jeffry Wicaksana · Eric Xing · Kwang-Ting Cheng

Hall E #218

Keywords: [ DL: Everything Else ] [ APP: Computer Vision ]


In order to deploy deep models in a computationally efficient manner, model quantization approaches have been frequently used. In addition, as new hardware that supports various-bit arithmetic operations, recent research on mixed precision quantization (MPQ) begins to fully leverage the capacity of representation by searching various bitwidths for different layers and modules in a network. However, previous studies mainly search the MPQ strategy in a costly scheme using reinforcement learning, neural architecture search, etc., or simply utilize partial prior knowledge for bitwidth distribution, which might be biased and sub-optimal. In this work, we present a novel Stochastic Differentiable Quantization (SDQ) method that can automatically learn the MPQ strategy in a more flexible and globally-optimized space with a smoother gradient approximation. Particularly, Differentiable Bitwidth Parameters (DBPs) are employed as the probability factors in stochastic quantization between adjacent bitwidth. After the optimal MPQ strategy is acquired, we further train our network with the entropy-aware bin regularization and knowledge distillation. We extensively evaluate our method on different networks, hardwares (GPUs and FPGA), and datasets. SDQ outperforms all other state-of-the-art mixed or single precision quantization with less bitwidth, and are even better than the original full-precision counterparts across various ResNet and MobileNet families, demonstrating the effectiveness and superiority of our method. Code will be publicly available.

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