Exposing and Exploiting Fine-Grained Block Structures for Fast and Accurate Sparse Training

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 35 (NeurIPS 2022) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Peng Jiang, Lihan Hu, Shihui Song


Sparse training is a popular technique to reduce the overhead of training large models. Although previous work has shown promising results for nonstructured sparse models, it is still unclear whether a sparse model with structural constraints can be trained from scratch to high accuracy. In this work, we study the dynamic sparse training for a class of sparse models with shuffled block structures. Compared to nonstructured models, such fine-grained structured models are more hardware-friendly and can effectively accelerate the training process. We propose an algorithm that keeps adapting the sparse model while maintaining the active parameters in shuffled blocks. We conduct experiments on a variety of networks and datasets and obtain positive results. In particular, on ImageNet, we achieve dense accuracy for ResNet50 and ResNet18 at 0.5 sparsity. On CIFAR10/100, we show that dense accuracy can be recovered at 0.6 sparsity for various models. At higher sparsity, our algorithm can still match the accuracy of nonstructured sparse training in most cases, while reducing the training time by up to 5x due to the fine-grained block structures in the models.