Validating the Lottery Ticket Hypothesis with Inertial Manifold Theory

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 (NeurIPS 2021)

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Zeru Zhang, Jiayin Jin, Zijie Zhang, Yang Zhou, Xin Zhao, Jiaxiang Ren, Ji Liu, Lingfei Wu, Ruoming Jin, Dejing Dou


Despite achieving remarkable efficiency, traditional network pruning techniques often follow manually-crafted heuristics to generate pruned sparse networks. Such heuristic pruning strategies are hard to guarantee that the pruned networks achieve test accuracy comparable to the original dense ones. Recent works have empirically identified and verified the Lottery Ticket Hypothesis (LTH): a randomly-initialized dense neural network contains an extremely sparse subnetwork, which can be trained to achieve similar accuracy to the former. Due to the lack of theoretical evidence, they often need to run multiple rounds of expensive training and pruning over the original large networks to discover the sparse subnetworks with low accuracy loss. By leveraging dynamical systems theory and inertial manifold theory, this work theoretically verifies the validity of the LTH. We explore the possibility of theoretically lossless pruning as well as one-time pruning, compared with existing neural network pruning and LTH techniques. We reformulate the neural network optimization problem as a gradient dynamical system and reduce this high-dimensional system onto inertial manifolds to obtain a low-dimensional system regarding pruned subnetworks. We demonstrate the precondition and existence of pruned subnetworks and prune the original networks in terms of the gap in their spectrum that make the subnetworks have the smallest dimensions.