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Scaling Spherical CNNs

Carlos Esteves · Jean-Jacques Slotine · Ameesh Makadia

Exhibit Hall 1 #215


Spherical CNNs generalize CNNs to functions on the sphere, by using spherical convolutions as the main linear operation. The most accurate and efficient way to compute spherical convolutions is in the spectral domain (via the convolution theorem), which is still costlier than the usual planar convolutions. For this reason, applications of spherical CNNs have so far been limited to small problems that can be approached with low model capacity. In this work, we show how spherical CNNs can be scaled for much larger problems. To achieve this, we make critical improvements including novel variants of common model components, an implementation of core operations to exploit hardware accelerator characteristics, and application-specific input representations that exploit the properties of our model. Experiments show our larger spherical CNNs reach state-of-the-art on several targets of the QM9 molecular benchmark, which was previously dominated by equivariant graph neural networks, and achieve competitive performance on multiple weather forecasting tasks. Our code is available at

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