State-of-the-art results in deep learning have been improving steadily, in good part due to the use of larger models. However, widespread use is constrained by device hardware limitations, resulting in a substantial performance gap between state-of-the-art models and those that can be effectively deployed on small devices. While Knowledge Distillation (KD) theoretically enables small student models to emulate larger teacher models, in practice selecting a good student architecture requires considerable human expertise. Neural Architecture Search (NAS) appears as a natural solution to this problem but most approaches can be inefficient, as most of the computation is spent comparing architectures sampled from the same distribution, with negligible differences in performance. In this paper, we propose to instead search for a family of student architectures sharing the property of being good at learning from a given teacher. Our approach AutoKD, powered by Bayesian Optimization, explores a flexible graph-based search space, enabling us to automatically learn the optimal student architecture distribution and KD parameters, while being 20x more sample efficient compared to existing state-of-the-art. We evaluate our method on 3 datasets; on large images specifically, we reach the teacher performance while using 3x less memory and 10x less parameters. Finally, while AutoKD uses the traditional KD loss, it outperforms more advanced KD variants using hand-designed students.
This perspective piece came about through the Generative Adversarial Collaboration (GAC) series of workshops organized by the Computational Cognitive Neuroscience (CCN) conference in 2020. We brought together a number of experts from the field of theoretical neuroscience to debate emerging issues in our understanding of how learning is implemented in biological recurrent neural networks. Here, we will give a brief review of the common assumptions about biological learning and the corresponding findings from experimental neuroscience and contrast them with the efficiency of gradient-based learning in recurrent neural networks commonly used in artificial intelligence. We will then outline the key issues discussed in the workshop: synaptic plasticity, neural circuits, theory-experiment divide, and objective functions. Finally, we conclude with recommendations for both theoretical and experimental neuroscientists when designing new studies that could help to bring clarity to these issues.