KDGAN: Knowledge Distillation with Generative Adversarial Networks

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

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Xiaojie Wang, Rui Zhang, Yu Sun, Jianzhong Qi


Knowledge distillation (KD) aims to train a lightweight classifier suitable to provide accurate inference with constrained resources in multi-label learning. Instead of directly consuming feature-label pairs, the classifier is trained by a teacher, i.e., a high-capacity model whose training may be resource-hungry. The accuracy of the classifier trained this way is usually suboptimal because it is difficult to learn the true data distribution from the teacher. An alternative method is to adversarially train the classifier against a discriminator in a two-player game akin to generative adversarial networks (GAN), which can ensure the classifier to learn the true data distribution at the equilibrium of this game. However, it may take excessively long time for such a two-player game to reach equilibrium due to high-variance gradient updates. To address these limitations, we propose a three-player game named KDGAN consisting of a classifier, a teacher, and a discriminator. The classifier and the teacher learn from each other via distillation losses and are adversarially trained against the discriminator via adversarial losses. By simultaneously optimizing the distillation and adversarial losses, the classifier will learn the true data distribution at the equilibrium. We approximate the discrete distribution learned by the classifier (or the teacher) with a concrete distribution. From the concrete distribution, we generate continuous samples to obtain low-variance gradient updates, which speed up the training. Extensive experiments using real datasets confirm the superiority of KDGAN in both accuracy and training speed.