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  1. Vision Transformers (ViTs) have achieved state-of-the-art performance on various vision tasks. However, ViTs’ self-attention module is still arguably a major bottleneck, limiting their achievable hardware efficiency and more extensive applications to resource constrained platforms. Meanwhile, existing accelerators dedicated to NLP Transformers are not optimal for ViTs. This is because there is a large difference between ViTs and Transformers for natural language processing (NLP) tasks: ViTs have a relatively fixed number of input tokens, whose attention maps can be pruned by up to 90% even with fixed sparse patterns, without severely hurting the model accuracy (e.g., <=1.5% under 90% pruning ratio); while NLP Transformers need to handle input sequences of varying numbers of tokens and rely on on-the-fly predictions of dynamic sparse attention patterns for each input to achieve a decent sparsity (e.g., >=50%). To this end, we propose a dedicated algorithm and accelerator co-design framework dubbed ViTCoD for accelerating ViTs. Specifically, on the algorithm level, ViTCoD prunes and polarizes the attention maps to have either denser or sparser fixed patterns for regularizing two levels of workloads without hurting the accuracy, largely reducing the attention computations while leaving room for alleviating the remaining dominant data movements; on top of that, we further integrate a lightweight and learnable auto-encoder module to enable trading the dominant high-cost data movements for lower-cost computations. On the hardware level, we develop a dedicated accelerator to simultaneously coordinate the aforementioned enforced denser and sparser workloads for boosted hardware utilization, while integrating on-chip encoder and decoder engines to leverage ViTCoD’s algorithm pipeline for much reduced data movements. Extensive experiments and ablation studies validate that ViTCoD largely reduces the dominant data movement costs, achieving speedups of up to 235.3×, 142.9×, 86.0×, 10.1×, and 6.8× over general computing platforms CPUs, EdgeGPUs, GPUs, and prior-art Transformer accelerators SpAtten and Sanger under an attention sparsity of 90%, respectively. Our code implementation is available at https://github.com/GATECH-EIC/ViTCoD. 
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  2. Low precision deep neural network (DNN) training is one of the most effective techniques for boosting DNNs’ training efficiency, as it trims down the training cost from the finest bit level. While existing works mostly fix the model precision during the whole training process, a few pioneering works have shown that dynamic precision schedules help NNs converge to a better accuracy while leading to a lower training cost than their static precision training counterparts. However, existing dynamic low precision training methods rely on manually designed precision schedules to achieve advantageous efficiency and accuracy trade-offs, limiting their more comprehensive practical applications and achievable performance. To this end, we propose LDP, a Learnable Dynamic Precision DNN training framework that can automatically learn a temporally and spatially dynamic precision schedule during training towards optimal accuracy and efficiency trade-offs. It is worth noting that LDP-trained DNNs are by nature efficient during inference. Further more, we visualize the resulting temporal and spatial precision schedule and distribution of LDP trained DNNs on different tasks to better understand the corresponding DNNs’ characteristics at different training stages and DNN layers both during and after training, drawing insights for promoting further innovations. Extensive experiments and ablation studies (seven networks, five datasets, and three tasks) show that the proposed LDP consistently outperforms state-of-the-art (SOTA) low precision DNN training techniques in terms of training efficiency and achieved accuracy trade-offs. For example, in addition to having the advantage of being automated, our LDP achieves a 0.31% higher accuracy with a 39.1% lower computational cost when training ResNet-20 on CIFAR-10 as compared with the best SOTA method. 
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  3. Eye tracking has become an essential human-machine interaction modality for providing immersive experience in numerous virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) applications desiring high throughput (e.g., 240 FPS), small-form, and enhanced visual privacy. However, existing eye tracking systems are still limited by their: (1) large form-factor largely due to the adopted bulky lens-based cameras; (2) high communication cost required between the camera and backend processor; and (3) potentially concerned low visual privacy, thus prohibiting their more extensive applications. To this end, we propose, develop, and validate a lensless FlatCambased eye tracking algorithm and accelerator co-design framework dubbed EyeCoD to enable eye tracking systems with a much reduced form-factor and boosted system efficiency without sacrificing the tracking accuracy, paving the way for next-generation eye tracking solutions. On the system level, we advocate the use of lensless FlatCams instead of lens-based cameras to facilitate the small form-factor need in mobile eye tracking systems, which also leaves rooms for a dedicated sensing-processor co-design to reduce the required camera-processor communication latency. On the algorithm level, EyeCoD integrates a predict-then-focus pipeline that first predicts the region-of-interest (ROI) via segmentation and then only focuses on the ROI parts to estimate gaze directions, greatly reducing redundant computations and data movements. On the hardware level, we further develop a dedicated accelerator that (1) integrates a novel workload orchestration between the aforementioned segmentation and gaze estimation models, (2) leverages intra-channel reuse opportunities for depth-wise layers, (3) utilizes input feature-wise partition to save activation memory size, and (4) develops a sequential-write-parallel-read input buffer to alleviate the bandwidth requirement for the activation global buffer. On-silicon measurement and extensive experiments validate that our EyeCoD consistently reduces both the communication and computation costs, leading to an overall system speedup of 10.95×, 3.21×, and 12.85× over general computing platforms including CPUs and GPUs, and a prior-art eye tracking processor called CIS-GEP, respectively, while maintaining the tracking accuracy. Codes are available at https://github.com/RICE-EIC/EyeCoD. 
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