Tied Block Convolution: Leaner and Better CNNs with Shared Thinner Filters

TitleTied Block Convolution: Leaner and Better CNNs with Shared Thinner Filters
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsWang, X., & Yu S. X.
Published inProceedings of AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence
Date Published02/2021
Other NumbersarXiv:2009.12021
KeywordsConvolution, depth-wise convolution, group convolution, tied block convolution

Convolution is the main building block of a convolutional neural network (CNN). We observe that an optimized CNN often has highly correlated filters as the number of channels increases with depth, reducing the expressive power of feature representations.

We propose {\it Tied Block Convolution} (TBC) that shares the same thinner filter over equal blocks of channels and produces multiple responses with a single filter. The concept of TBC can also be extended to group convolution and fully connected layers, and can be applied to various backbone networks and attention modules.

Our extensive experimentation on classification, detection, instance segmentation, and attention demonstrates that TBC is consistently leaner and significantly better than standard convolution and group convolution. On attention, with 64$\times$ fewer parameters, our TiedSE performs on par with the standard SE. On detection and segmentation, TBC can effectively handle highly overlapping instances, whereas standard CNNs often fail to accurately aggregate information in the presence of occlusion and result in multiple redundant partial object proposals. By sharing filters across channels, TBC reduces correlation and delivers a sizable gain of $6\%$ in the average precision for object detection on MS-COCO when the occlusion ratio is $80\%$. Our code is publicly available.