Google Research

What Do Compressed Deep Neural Networks Forget?

  • Sara Hooker
  • Aaron Courville
  • Gregory Clark
  • Yann Dauphin
  • Andrea Frome


Deep neural network pruning and quantization techniques have demonstrated it is possible to achieve high levels of compression with surprisingly little degradation to test set accuracy. However, this measure of performance conceals significant differences in how different classes and images are impacted by model compression techniques. We find that models with radically different numbers of weights have comparable top-line performance metrics but diverge considerably in behavior on a narrow subset of the dataset. This small subset of data points, which we term Pruning Identified Exemplars (PIEs) are systematically more impacted by the introduction of sparsity. Compression disproportionately impacts model performance on the underrepresented long-tail of the data distribution. PIEs over-index on atypical or noisy images that are far more challenging for both humans and algorithms to classify. Our work provides intuition into the role of capacity in deep neural networks and the trade-offs incurred by compression. An understanding of this disparate impact is critical given the widespread deployment of compressed models in the wild.

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