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Is Integer Arithmetic Enough for Deep Learning Training?

Alireza Ghaffari · Marzieh S. Tahaei · Mohammadreza Tayaranian · Masoud Asgharian · Vahid Partovi Nia

Hall J (level 1) #217

Keywords: [ Integer back-propagation ] [ Accelerated Training ] [ Integer Training ] [ Integer-only SGD ]


The ever-increasing computational complexity of deep learning models makes their training and deployment difficult on various cloud and edge platforms. Replacing floating-point arithmetic with low-bit integer arithmetic is a promising approach to save energy, memory footprint, and latency of deep learning models. As such, quantization has attracted the attention of researchers in recent years. However, using integer numbers to form a fully functional integer training pipeline including forward pass, back-propagation, and stochastic gradient descent is not studied in detail. Our empirical and mathematical results reveal that integer arithmetic seems to be enough to train deep learning models. Unlike recent proposals, instead of quantization, we directly switch the number representation of computations. Our novel training method forms a fully integer training pipeline that does not change the trajectory of the loss and accuracy compared to floating-point, nor does it need any special hyper-parameter tuning, distribution adjustment, or gradient clipping. Our experimental results show that our proposed method is effective in a wide variety of tasks such as classification (including vision transformers), object detection, and semantic segmentation.

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