M-FAC: Efficient Matrix-Free Approximations of Second-Order Information (NeurIPS 2021)

Efficiently approximating local curvature information of the loss function is a key tool for the optimization and compression of deep neural networks. Yet, most existing methods to approximate second-order information have high computational or storage costs, which can limit their practicality.

In this work, we investigate matrix-free, linear-time approaches for estimating Inverse-Hessian Vector Products (IHVPs) for the case when the Hessian can be approximated as a sum of rank-one matrices, as in the classic approximation of the Hessian by the empirical Fisher matrix.

We propose two new algorithms as part of a framework called M-FAC: the first algorithm is tailored towards network compression and can compute the IHVP for dimension d, if the Hessian is given as a sum of m rank-one matrices, using O(dm2) precomputation, O(dm) cost for computing the IHVP, and query cost O(m) for any single element of the inverse Hessian. The second algorithm targets an optimization setting, where we wish to compute the product between the inverse Hessian, estimated over a sliding window of optimization steps, and a given gradient direction, as required for preconditioned SGD. We give an algorithm with cost O(dm+m2) for computing the IHVP and O(dm+m3) for adding or removing any gradient from the sliding window. These two algorithms yield state-of-the-art results for network pruning and optimization with lower computational overhead relative to existing second-order methods.

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