ProxylessNAS: Direct Neural Architecture Search on Target Task and Hardware

Han Cai, Ligeng Zhu, Song Han
(* indicates equal contribution)


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Competition Awards

First Place
Visual Wake Words Challenge
TF-lite track
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Neural architecture search (NAS) has a great impact by automatically designing effective neural network architectures. However, the prohibitive computational demand of conventional NAS algorithms (e.g. 104 GPU hours) makes it difficult to directly search the architectures on large-scale tasks (e.g. ImageNet). Differentiable NAS can reduce the cost of GPU hours via a continuous representation of network architecture but suffers from the high GPU memory consumption issue (grow linearly w.r.t. candidate set size). As a result, they need to utilize proxy tasks, such as training on a smaller dataset, or learning with only a few blocks, or training just for a few epochs. These architectures optimized on proxy tasks are not guaranteed to be optimal on the target task. In this paper, we present ProxylessNAS that can directly learn the architectures for large-scale target tasks and target hardware platforms. We address the high memory consumption issue of differentiable NAS and reduce the computational cost (GPU hours and GPU memory) to the same level of regular training while still allowing a large candidate set. Experiments on CIFAR-10 and ImageNet demonstrate the effectiveness of directness and specialization. On CIFAR-10, our model achieves 2.08% test error with only 5.7M parameters, better than the previous state-of-the-art architecture AmoebaNet-B, while using 6× fewer parameters. On ImageNet, our model achieves 3.1% better top-1 accuracy than MobileNetV2, while being 1.2× faster with measured GPU latency. We also apply ProxylessNAS to specialize neural architectures for hardware with direct hardware metrics (e.g. latency) and provide insights for efficient CNN architecture design.

Direct Search on Target Task and Hardware

Specialized Neural Networks for Different Hardware Platforms

Experiment Results





title={Proxyless{NAS}: Direct Neural Architecture Search on Target Task and Hardware},  

author={Han Cai and Ligeng Zhu and Song Han},  

booktitle={International Conference on Learning Representations},  






We thank MIT Quest for Intelligence, MIT-IBM Watson AI lab, SenseTime, Xilinx, Snap Research for supporting this work. We also thank AWS Cloud Credits for Research Program providing us the cloud computing resources.

Team Members