Google Research

EvalNorm: Estimating Batch Normalization Statistics for Evaluation

ICCV 2019 (to appear)

Abstract

Batch normalization (BN) has been very effective for deep learning and is widely used. However, when training with small minibatches, models using BN exhibit a significant degradation in performance. In this paper we study this peculiar behavior of BN to gain a better understanding of the problem, and identify a cause. We propose 'EvalNorm' to address the issue by estimating corrected normalization statistics to use for BN during evaluation. EvalNorm supports online estimation of the corrected statistics while the model is being trained, and does not affect the training scheme of the model. As a result, EvalNorm can also be used with existing pre-trained models allowing them to benefit from our method. EvalNorm yields large gains for models trained with smaller batches. Our experiments show that EvalNorm performs 6.18% (absolute) better than vanilla BN for a batchsize of 2 on ImageNet validation set and from 1.5 to 7.0 points (absolute) gain on the COCO object detection benchmark across a variety of setups.

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