Fast as CHITA: Neural Network Pruning with Combinatorial Optimization

Riade Benbaki
Wenyu Chen
Meng Xiang
Natalia Ponomareva
Zhe Zhao
Rahul Mazumder
ICML 2023(2023)


The sheer size of modern neural networks makes model serving a serious computational challenge. A popular class of compression techniques overcomes this challenge by pruning or sparsifying the weights of pretrained networks. While useful, these techniques often face serious tradeoffs between computational requirements and compression quality. In this work, we propose a novel optimization-based pruning framework that considers the combined effect of pruning (and updating) multiple weights subject to a sparsity constraint. Our approach, CHITA, extends the classical Optimal Brain Surgeon framework and results in significant improvements in speed, memory, and performance over existing optimization-based approaches for network pruning. CHITA's main workhorse performs combinatorial optimization updates on a memory-friendly representation of local quadratic approximation(s) of the loss function. On a standard benchmark of pretrained models and datasets, CHITA leads to significantly better sparsity-accuracy tradeoffs than competing methods. For example, for MLPNet with only 2% of the weights retained, our approach improves the accuracy by 63% relative to the state of the art. Furthermore, when used in conjunction with fine-tuning SGD steps, our method achieves significant accuracy gains over the state-of-the-art approaches.

Research Areas