ChannelNets: Compact and Efficient Convolutional Neural Networks via Channel-Wise Convolutions

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 31 (NeurIPS 2018)

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Hongyang Gao, Zhengyang Wang, Shuiwang Ji


Convolutional neural networks (CNNs) have shown great capability of solving various artificial intelligence tasks. However, the increasing model size has raised challenges in employing them in resource-limited applications. In this work, we propose to compress deep models by using channel-wise convolutions, which replace dense connections among feature maps with sparse ones in CNNs. Based on this novel operation, we build light-weight CNNs known as ChannelNets. ChannelNets use three instances of channel-wise convolutions; namely group channel-wise convolutions, depth-wise separable channel-wise convolutions, and the convolutional classification layer. Compared to prior CNNs designed for mobile devices, ChannelNets achieve a significant reduction in terms of the number of parameters and computational cost without loss in accuracy. Notably, our work represents the first attempt to compress the fully-connected classification layer, which usually accounts for about 25% of total parameters in compact CNNs. Experimental results on the ImageNet dataset demonstrate that ChannelNets achieve consistently better performance compared to prior methods.