PocketNet: Extreme Lightweight Face Recognition Network Using Neural Architecture Search and Multistep Knowledge Distillation
Deep neural networks have rapidly become the mainstream method for face recognition (FR). However, this limits the deployment of such models that contain an extremely large number of parameters to embedded and low-end devices. In this work, we present an extremely lightweight and accurate FR solution, namely PocketNet. We utilize neural architecture search to develop a new family of lightweight face-specific architectures. We additionally propose a novel training paradigm based on knowledge distillation (KD), the multi-step KD, where the knowledge is distilled from the teacher model to the student model at different stages of the training maturity. We conduct a detailed ablation study proving both, the sanity of using NAS for the specific task of FR rather than general object classification, and the benefits of our proposed multi-step KD. We present an extensive experimental evaluation and comparisons with the state-of-the-art (SOTA) compact FR models on nine different benchmarks including large-scale evaluation benchmarks such as IJB-C and MegaFace. PocketNets have consistently advanced the SOTA FR performance on nine mainstream benchmarks when considering the same level of model compactness. With 0.92M parameters, our smallest network PocketNetS-128 achieved very competitive results to recent SOTA compacted models that contain up to 4M parameters. Training codes and pre-trained models are public.
Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung -BMBF-