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Stimulative Training of Residual Networks: A Social Psychology Perspective of Loafing

Peng Ye · Shengji Tang · Baopu Li · Tao Chen · Wanli Ouyang

Keywords: [ Residual networks ] [ Network Loafing ] [ Stimulative Training ]


Residual networks have shown great success and become indispensable in today’s deep models. In this work, we aim to re-investigate the training process of residual networks from a novel social psychology perspective of loafing, and further propose a new training strategy to strengthen the performance of residual networks. As residual networks can be viewed as ensembles of relatively shallow networks (i.e., unraveled view) in prior works, we also start from such view and consider that the final performance of a residual network is co-determined by a group of sub-networks. Inspired by the social loafing problem of social psychology, we find that residual networks invariably suffer from similar problem, where sub-networks in a residual network are prone to exert less effort when working as part of the group compared to working alone. We define this previously overlooked problem as network loafing. As social loafing will ultimately cause the low individual productivity and the reduced overall performance, network loafing will also hinder the performance of a given residual network and its sub-networks. Referring to the solutions of social psychology, we propose stimulative training, which randomly samples a residual sub-network and calculates the KL-divergence loss between the sampled sub-network and the given residual network, to act as extra supervision for sub-networks and make the overall goal consistent. Comprehensive empirical results and theoretical analyses verify that stimulative training can well handle the loafing problem, and improve the performance of a residual network by improving the performance of its sub-networks. The code is available at

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