Kalman Normalization: Normalizing Internal Representations Across Network Layers

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

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Guangrun Wang, jiefeng peng, Ping Luo, Xinjiang Wang, Liang Lin


As an indispensable component, Batch Normalization (BN) has successfully improved the training of deep neural networks (DNNs) with mini-batches, by normalizing the distribution of the internal representation for each hidden layer. However, the effectiveness of BN would diminish with the scenario of micro-batch (e.g. less than 4 samples in a mini-batch), since the estimated statistics in a mini-batch are not reliable with insufficient samples. This limits BN's room in training larger models on segmentation, detection, and video-related problems, which require small batches constrained by memory consumption. In this paper, we present a novel normalization method, called Kalman Normalization (KN), for improving and accelerating the training of DNNs, particularly under the context of micro-batches. Specifically, unlike the existing solutions treating each hidden layer as an isolated system, KN treats all the layers in a network as a whole system, and estimates the statistics of a certain layer by considering the distributions of all its preceding layers, mimicking the merits of Kalman Filtering. On ResNet50 trained in ImageNet, KN has 3.4% lower error than its BN counterpart when using a batch size of 4; Even when using typical batch sizes, KN still maintains an advantage over BN while other BN variants suffer a performance degradation. Moreover, KN can be naturally generalized to many existing normalization variants to obtain gains, e.g. equipping Group Normalization with Group Kalman Normalization (GKN). KN can outperform BN and its variants for large scale object detection and segmentation task in COCO 2017.