EdgeViTs: Competing Light-Weight CNNs on Mobile Devices with Vision Transformers

Junting Pan, Adrian Bulat, Fuwen Tan, Xiatian Zhu, Lukasz Dudziak, Hongsheng Li, Georgios Tzimiropoulos, Brais Martinez ;


"Self-attention based models such as vision transformers (ViTs) have emerged as a very competitive architecture alternative to convolutional neural networks (CNNs) in computer vision. Despite increasingly stronger variants with ever-higher recognition accuracies, due to the quadratic complexity of self-attention, existing ViTs are typically demanding in computation and model size. Although several successful design choices (e.g., the convolutions and hierarchical multi-stage structure) of prior CNNs have been reintroduced into recent ViTs, they are still not sufficient to meet the limited resource requirements of mobile devices. This motivates a very recent attempt to develop light ViTs based on the state-of-the-art MobileNet-v2, but still leaves a performance gap behind. In this work, pushing further along this under-studied direction we introduce EdgeViTs, a new family of light-weight ViTs that, for the first time, enable attention-based vision models to compete with the best light-weight CNNs in the tradeoff between accuracy and on-device efficiency. This is realized by introducing a highly cost-effective local-global-local (LGL) information exchange bottleneck based on optimal integration of self-attention and convolutions. For device-dedicated evaluation, rather than relying on inaccurate proxies like the number of FLOPs or parameters, we adopt a practical approach of focusing directly on on-device latency and, for the first time, energy efficiency. Extensive experiments on image classification, object detection, and semantic segmentation validate the high efficiency of our EdgeViTs when compared to the state-of-the-art efficient CNNs and ViTs in terms of accuracy-efficiency tradeoff on mobile hardware. Specifically, we show that our models are Pareto-optimal when both accuracy-latency and accuracy-energy tradeoffs are considered, achieving strict dominance over other ViTs in almost all cases and competing with the most efficient CNNs."

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