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SBNet: Sparse Block’s Network for Fast Inference


Conventional deep convolutional neural networks (CNNs) apply convolution operators uniformly in space across all feature maps for hundreds of layers – this incurs a high computational cost for real-time applications. For many problems such as object detection and semantic segmentation, we are able to obtain a low-cost computation mask, either from a priori problem knowledge, or from a low-resolution segmentation network. We show that such computation masks can be used to reduce computation in the high-resolution main network. Variants of sparse activation CNNs have previously been explored on small-scale tasks and showed no degradation in terms of object classification accuracy, but often measured gains in terms of theoretical FLOPs without realizing a practical speed-up when compared to highly optimized dense convolution implementations. In this work, we leverage the sparsity structure of computation masks and propose a novel tiling-based sparse convolution algorithm. We verified the effectiveness of our sparse CNN on LiDAR-based 3D object detection, and we report significant wall-clock speed-ups compared to dense convolution without noticeable loss of accuracy.


Mengye Ren, Andrei Pokrovsky, Bin Yang, Raquel Urtasun


CVPR 2018

Full Paper

‘SBNet: Sparse Block’s Network for Fast Inference’ (PDF)

Uber ATG

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Mengye Ren is a research scientist at Uber ATG Toronto. He is also a PhD student in the machine learning group of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto. He studied Engineering Science in his undergrad at the University of Toronto. His research interests are machine learning, neural networks, and computer vision. He is originally from Shanghai, China.
Andrei Pokrovsky is a researcher/engineer at Uber Advanced Technologies Group Toronto.
Bin Yang is a research scientist at Uber ATG Toronto. He's also a PhD student at University of Toronto, supervised by Prof. Raquel Urtasun. His research interest lies in computer vision and deep learning, with a focus on 3D perception in autonomous driving scenario.
Raquel Urtasun is the Chief Scientist for Uber ATG and the Head of Uber ATG Toronto. She is also a Professor at the University of Toronto, a Canada Research Chair in Machine Learning and Computer Vision and a co-founder of the Vector Institute for AI. She is a recipient of an NSERC EWR Steacie Award, an NVIDIA Pioneers of AI Award, a Ministry of Education and Innovation Early Researcher Award, three Google Faculty Research Awards, an Amazon Faculty Research Award, a Connaught New Researcher Award, a Fallona Family Research Award and two Best Paper Runner up Prize awarded CVPR in 2013 and 2017. She was also named Chatelaine 2018 Woman of the year, and 2018 Toronto’s top influencers by Adweek magazine