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Neural Architecture Search Using Property Guided Synthesis

Charles Jin
Sudip Roy
OOPSLA (2022)
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Neural architecture search (NAS) has become an increasingly important tool within the deep learning community in recent years, yielding many practical advancements in the design of deep neural network architectures. However, most existing approaches operate within highly structured design spaces, and hence (1) explore only a small fraction of the full search space of neural architectures while also (2) requiring significant manual effort from domain experts. In this work, we develop techniques that enable efficient NAS in a significantly larger design space. In particular, we propose to perform NAS in an abstract search space of program properties. Our key insights are as follows: (1) an abstract search space can be significantly smaller than the original search space, and (2) architectures with similar program properties should also have similar performance; thus, we can search more efficiently in the abstract search space. To enable this approach, we also introduce a novel efficient synthesis procedure, which performs the role of concretizing a set of promising program properties into a satisfying neural architecture. We implement our approach, αNAS, within an evolutionary framework, where the mutations are guided by the program properties. Starting with a ResNet-34 model, αNAS produces a model with slightly improved accuracy on CIFAR-10 but 96% fewer parameters. On ImageNet, αNAS is able to improve over Vision Transformer (30% fewer FLOPS and parameters), ResNet-50 (23% fewer FLOPS, 14% fewer parameters), and EfficientNet (7% fewer FLOPS and parameters) without any degradation in accuracy.