Distributionally Robust Ensemble of Lottery Tickets Towards Calibrated Sparse Network Training

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Hitesh Sapkota, Dingrong Wang, Zhiqiang Tao, Qi Yu


The recently developed sparse network training methods, such as Lottery Ticket Hypothesis (LTH) and its variants, have shown impressive learning capacity by finding sparse sub-networks from a dense one. While these methods could largely sparsify deep networks, they generally focus more on realizing comparable accuracy to dense counterparts yet neglect network calibration. However, how to achieve calibrated network predictions lies at the core of improving model reliability, especially when it comes to addressing the overconfident issue and out-of-distribution cases. In this study, we propose a novel Distributionally Robust Optimization (DRO) framework to achieve an ensemble of lottery tickets towards calibrated network sparsification. Specifically, the proposed DRO ensemble aims to learn multiple diverse and complementary sparse sub-networks (tickets) with the guidance of uncertainty sets, which encourage tickets to gradually capture different data distributions from easy to hard and naturally complement each other. We theoretically justify the strong calibration performance by showing how the proposed robust training process guarantees to lower the confidence of incorrect predictions. Extensive experimental results on several benchmarks show that our proposed lottery ticket ensemble leads to a clear calibration improvement without sacrificing accuracy and burdening inference costs. Furthermore, experiments on OOD datasets demonstrate the robustness of our approach in the open-set environment.