Entropic Score metric: Decoupling Topology and Size in Training-free NAS

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Niccolò Cavagnero, Luca Robbiano, Francesca Pistilli, Barbara Caputo, Giuseppe Averta


Neural Networks design is a complex and often daunting task, particularly for resource-constrained scenarios typical of mobile-sized models. Neural Architecture Search is a promising approach to automate this process, but existing competitive methods require large training time and computational resources to generate accurate models. To overcome these limits, this paper contributes with: i) a novel training-free metric, named Entropic Score, to estimate model expressivity through the aggregated element-wise entropy of its activations; ii) a cyclic search algorithm to separately yet synergistically search model size and topology. Entropic Score shows remarkable ability in searching for the topology of the network, and a proper combination with LogSynflow, to search for model size, yields superior capability to completely design high-performance Hybrid Transformers for edge applications in less than 1 GPU hour, resulting in the fastest and most accurate NAS method for ImageNet classification.

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