Stochastic Normalization

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 pre-proceedings (NeurIPS 2020)

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Zhi Kou, Kaichao You, Mingsheng Long, Jianmin Wang


<p>Fine-tuning pre-trained deep networks on a small dataset is an important component in the deep learning pipeline. A critical problem in fine-tuning is how to avoid over-fitting when data are limited. Existing efforts work from two aspects: (1) impose regularization on parameters or features; (2) transfer prior knowledge to fine-tuning by reusing pre-trained parameters. In this paper, we take an alternative approach by refactoring the widely used Batch Normalization (BN) module to mitigate over-fitting. We propose a two-branch design with one branch normalized by mini-batch statistics and the other branch normalized by moving statistics. During training, two branches are stochastically selected to avoid over-depending on some sample statistics, resulting in a strong regularization effect, which we interpret as ``architecture regularization.'' The resulting method is dubbed stochastic normalization (\textbf{StochNorm}). With the two-branch architecture, it naturally incorporates pre-trained moving statistics in BN layers during fine-tuning, exploiting more prior knowledge of pre-trained networks. Extensive empirical experiments show that StochNorm is a powerful tool to avoid over-fitting in fine-tuning with small datasets. Besides, StochNorm is readily pluggable in modern CNN backbones. It is complementary to other fine-tuning methods and can work together to achieve stronger regularization effect.</p>