The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Fully-Connected Layers for Low-Data Regimes

Peter Kocsis · Peter Súkeník · Guillem Braso · Matthias Niessner · Laura Leal-Taixé · Ismail Elezi

Hall J #125

Keywords: [ Convolutional Networks ] [ Low-data Regime ]

Abstract: Convolutional neural networks were the standard for solving many computer vision tasks until recently, when Transformers of MLP-based architectures have started to show competitive performance. These architectures typically have a vast number of weights and need to be trained on massive datasets; hence, they are not suitable for their use in low-data regimes. In this work, we propose a simple yet effective framework to improve generalization from small amounts of data. We augment modern CNNs with fully-connected (FC) layers and show the massive impact this architectural change has in low-data regimes. We further present an online joint knowledge-distillation method to utilize the extra FC layers at train time but avoid them during test time. This allows us to improve the generalization of a CNN-based model without any increase in the number of weights at test time. We perform classification experiments for a large range of network backbones and several standard datasets on supervised learning and active learning. Our experiments significantly outperform the networks without fully-connected layers, reaching a relative improvement of up to $16\%$ validation accuracy in the supervised setting without adding any extra parameters during inference.

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