Prune Your Model before Distill It
"Knowledge distillation transfers the knowledge from a cumbersome teacher to a small student. Recent results suggest that the student-friendly teacher is more appropriate to distill since it provides more transferrable knowledge. In this work, we propose the novel framework, “prune, then distill,” that prunes the model first to make it more transferrable and then distill it to the student. We provide several exploratory examples where the pruned teacher teaches better than the original unpruned networks. We further show theoretically that the pruned teacher plays the role of regularizer in distillation, which reduces the generalization error. Based on this result, we propose a novel neural network compression scheme where the student network is formed based on the pruned teacher and then apply the “prune, then distill” strategy. The code is available at https://github.com/ososos888/prune-then-distill."