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FALCON: FLOP-Aware Combinatorial Optimization for Neural Network Pruning

Xiang Meng · Wenyu Chen · Riade Benbaki · Rahul Mazumder

MR1 & MR2 - Number 110
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Sat 4 May 6 a.m. PDT — 8:30 a.m. PDT


The increasing computational demands of modern neural networks present deployment challenges on resource-constrained devices. Network pruning offers a solution to reduce model size and computational cost while maintaining performance. However, current pruning methods focus primarily on improving sparsity by reducing the number of nonzero parameters, often neglecting other deployment costs such as inference time, which are closely related to the number of floating-point operations (FLOPs). In this paper, we propose {FALCON}, a novel combinatorial-optimization-based framework for network pruning that jointly takes into account model accuracy (fidelity), FLOPs, and sparsity constraints. A main building block of our approach is an integer linear program (ILP) that simultaneously handles FLOP and sparsity constraints. We present a novel algorithm to approximately solve the ILP. We propose a novel first-order method for our optimization framework which makes use of our ILP solver. Using problem structure (e.g., the low-rank structure of approx. Hessian), we can address instances with millions of parameters. Our experiments demonstrate that {FALCON}~achieves superior accuracy compared to other pruning approaches within a fixed FLOP budget. For instance, for ResNet50 with 20\% of the total FLOPs retained, our approach improves the accuracy by 48\% relative to state-of-the-art. Furthermore, in gradual pruning settings with re-training between pruning steps, our framework outperforms existing pruning methods, emphasizing the significance of incorporating both FLOP and sparsity constraints for effective network pruning.

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