XNAS: A Regressive/Progressive NAS for Deep Learning

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Deep learning has achieved great and broad breakthroughs in many real-world applications. In particular, the task of training the network parameters has been masterly handled by back-propagation learning. However, the pursuit on optimal network structures remains largely an art of trial and error. This prompts some urgency to explore an architecture engineering process, collectively known as Neural Architecture Search (NAS). In general, NAS is a design software system for automating the search of effective neural architecture. This article proposes an X-learning NAS (XNAS) to automatically train a network's structure and parameters. Our theoretical footing is built upon the subspace and correlation analyses between the input layer, hidden layer, and output layer. The design strategy hinges upon the underlying principle that the network should be coerced to learn how to structurally improvethe input/output correlation successively (i.e., layer by layer). It embraces both Progressive NAS (PNAS) and Regressive NAS (RNAS). For unsupervised RNAS, Principal Component Analysis (PCA) is a classic tool for subspace analyses. By further incorporating teacher's guidance, PCA can be extended to Regression Component Analysis (RCA) to facilitate supervised NAS design. This allows the machine to extract components most critical to the targeted learning objective. We shall further extend the subspace analysis from multi-layer perceptrons to convolutional neural networks, via introduction of Convolutional-PCA (CPCA) or, more simply, Deep-PCA (DPCA). The supervised variant of DPCA will be named Deep-RCA (DRCA). The subspace analyses allow us to compute optimal eigenvectors (respectively, eigen-filters) and principal components (respectively, eigen-channels) for optimal NAS design of multi-layer perceptrons (respectively, convolutional neural networks). Based on the theoretical analysis, an X-learning paradigm is developed to jointly learn the structure and parameters of learning models. The objective is to reduce the network complexity while retaining (and sometimes improving) the performance. With carefully pre-selected baseline models, X-learning has shown great successes in numerous classification-type and/or regression-type applications. We have applied X-learning to the ImageNet datasets for classification and DIV2K for image enhancements. By applying X-learning to two types of baseline models, MobileNet and ResNet, both the low-power and high-performance application categories can be supported. Our simulations confirm that X-learning is by and large very competitive relative to the state-of-the-art approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3543669
JournalACM Transactions on Sensor Networks
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 29 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Networks and Communications


  • Deep learning
  • Deep-PCA (DPCA)
  • Kernel-LSE (KLSE)
  • X-learning
  • discriminant information (DI)
  • neural architectural search (NAS)
  • regression component analysis (RCA)
  • regression/progression NAS


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