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How deep should be the depth of convolutional neural networks: a backyard dog case study

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posted on 29.04.2020, 16:15 by AN Gorban, EM Mirkes, IY Tukin
The work concerns the problem of reducing a pre-trained deep neuronal network to a smaller network, with just few layers, whilst retaining the network’s functionality on a given task. In this particular case study, we are focusing on the networks developed for the purposes of face recognition. The proposed approach is motivated by the observation that the aim to deliver the highest accuracy possible in the broadest range of operational conditions, which many deep neural networks models strive to achieve, may not necessarily be always needed, desired or even achievable due to the lack of data or technical constraints. In relation to the face recognition problem, we formulated an example of such a use case, the ‘backyard dog’ problem. The ‘backyard dog’, implemented by a lean network, should correctly identify members from a limited group of individuals, a ‘family’, and should distinguish between them. At the same time, the network must produce an alarm to an image of an individual who is not in a member of the family, i.e. a ‘stranger’. To produce such a lean network, we propose a network shallowing algorithm. The algorithm takes an existing deep learning model on its input and outputs a shallowed version of the model. The algorithm is non-iterative and is based on the advanced supervised principal component analysis. Performance of the algorithm is assessed in exhaustive numerical experiments. Our experiments revealed that in the above use case, the ‘backyard dog’ problem, the method is capable of drastically reducing the depth of deep learning neural networks, albeit at the cost of mild performance deterioration. In this work, we proposed a simple non-iterative method for shallowing down pre-trained deep convolutional networks. The method is generic in the sense that it applies to a broad class of feed-forward networks, and is based on the advanced supervise principal component analysis. The method enables generation of families of smaller-size shallower specialized networks tuned for specific operational conditions and tasks from a single larger and more universal legacy network.


This study was funded by by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of Russian Federation (Project No. 14.Y26.31.0022) and Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Partnership grants KTP009890 and KTP010522.



Gorban, A.N., Mirkes, E.M. & Tyukin, I.Y. How Deep Should be the Depth of Convolutional Neural Networks: a Backyard Dog Case Study. Cogn Comput (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12559-019-09667-7

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