Self-Slimmed Vision Transformer

Zhuofan Zong, Kunchang Li, Guanglu Song, Yali Wang, Yu Qiao, Biao Leng, Yu Liu ;


"Vision transformers (ViTs) have become the popular structures and outperformed convolutional neural networks (CNNs) on various vision tasks. However, such powerful transformers bring a huge computation burden, because of the exhausting token-to-token comparison. The previous works focus on dropping insignificant tokens to reduce the computational cost of ViTs. But when the dropping ratio increases, this hard manner will inevitably discard the vital tokens, which limits its efficiency. To solve the issue, we propose a generic self-slimmed learning approach for vanilla ViTs, namely SiT. Specifically, we first design a novel Token Slimming Module (TSM), which can boost the inference efficiency of ViTs by dynamic token aggregation. As a general method of token hard dropping, our TSM softly integrates redundant tokens into fewer informative ones. It can dynamically zoom visual attention without cutting off discriminative token relations in the images, even with a high slimming ratio. Furthermore, we introduce a concise Feature Recalibration Distillation (FRD) framework, wherein we design a reverse version of TSM (RTSM) to recalibrate the unstructured token in a flexible auto-encoder manner. Due to the similar structure between teacher and student, our FRD can effectively leverage structure knowledge for better convergence. Finally, we conduct extensive experiments to evaluate our SiT. It demonstrates that our method can speed up ViTs by 1.7x with negligible accuracy drop, and even speed up ViTs by 3.6x while maintaining 97% of their performance. Surprisingly, by simply arming LV-ViT with our SiT, we achieve new state-of-the-art performance on ImageNet. Code is available at"

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