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  1. Deformable Convolutional Networks (DCN) have been proposed as a powerful tool to boost the representation power of Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN) in computer vision tasks via adaptive sampling of the input feature map. Much like vision transformers, DCNs utilize a more flexible inductive bias than standard CNNs and have also been shown to improve performance of particular models. For example, drop-in DCN layers were shown to increase the AP score of Mask RCNN by 10.6 points while introducing only 1% additional parameters and FLOPs, improving the state-of-the art model at the time of publication. However, despite evidence that more DCN layers placed earlier in the network can further improve performance, we have not seen this trend continue with further scaling of deformations in CNNs, unlike for vision transformers. Benchmarking experiments show that a realistically sized DCN layer (64H×64W, 64 in-out channel) incurs a 4× slowdown on a GPU platform, discouraging the more ubiquitous use of deformations in CNNs. These slowdowns are caused by the irregular input-dependent access patterns of the bilinear interpolation operator, which has a disproportionately low arithmetic intensity (AI) compared to the rest of the DCN. To address the disproportionate slowdown of DCNs and enable their expanded use in CNNs, we propose DefT, a series of workload-aware optimizations for DCN kernels. DefT identifies performance bottlenecks in DCNs and fuses specific operators that are observed to limit DCN AI. Our approach also uses statistical information of DCN workloads to adapt the workload tiling to the DCN layer dimensions, minimizing costly out-of-boundary input accesses. Experimental results show that DefT mitigates up to half of DCN slowdown over the current-art PyTorch implementation. This translates to a layerwise speedup of up to 134% and a reduction of normalized training time of 46% on a fully DCN-enabled ResNet model. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 25, 2024
  2. null (Ed.)
    The ever-growing parameter size and computation cost of Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) models hinder their deployment onto resource-constrained platforms. Network pruning techniques are proposed to remove the redundancy in CNN parameters and produce a sparse model. Sparse-aware accelerators are also proposed to reduce the computation cost and memory bandwidth requirements of inference by leveraging the model sparsity. The irregularity of sparse patterns, however, limits the efficiency of those designs. Researchers proposed to address this issue by creating a regular sparsity pattern through hardware-aware pruning algorithms. However, the pruning rate of these solutions is largely limited by the enforced sparsity patterns. This limitation motivates us to explore other compression methods beyond pruning. With two decoupled computation stages, we found that kernel decomposition could potentially take the processing of the sparse pattern off from the critical path of inference and achieve a high compression ratio without enforcing the sparse patterns. To exploit these advantages, we propose ESCALATE, an algorithm-hardware co-design approach based on kernel decomposition. At algorithm level, ESCALATE reorganizes the two computation stages of the decomposed convolution to enable a stream processing of the intermediate feature map. We proposed a hybrid quantization to exploit the different reuse frequency of each part of the decomposed weight. At architecture level, ESCALATE proposes a novel ‘Basis-First’ dataflow and its corresponding microarchitecture design to maximize the benefits brought by the decomposed convolution. 
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  4. Although state-of-the-art (SOTA) CNNs achieve outstanding performance on various tasks, their high computation demand and massive number of parameters make it difficult to deploy these SOTA CNNs onto resource-constrained devices. Previous works on CNN acceleration utilize low-rank approximation of the original convolution layers to reduce computation cost. However, these methods are very difficult to conduct upon sparse models, which limits execution speedup since redundancies within the CNN model are not fully exploited. We argue that kernel granularity decomposition can be conducted with low-rank assumption while exploiting the redundancy within the remaining compact coefficients. Based on this observation, we propose PENNI, a CNN model compression framework that is able to achieve model compactness and hardware efficiency simultaneously by (1) implementing kernel sharing in convolution layers via a small number of basis kernels and (2) alternately adjusting bases and coefficients with sparse constraints. Experiments show that we can prune 97% parameters and 92% FLOPs on ResNet18 CIFAR10 with no accuracy loss, and achieve 44% reduction in run-time memory consumption and a 53% reduction in inference latency. 
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