Designing Neural Network Architectures using Reinforcement Learning

March 22, 2017


Bowen Baker, Otkrist Gupta, Nikhil Naik, Ramesh Raskar arXiv preprint arXiv:1611.02167


At present, designing convolutional neural network (CNN) architectures requires both human expertise and labor. New architectures are handcrafted by careful experimentation or modified from a handful of existing networks. We introduce MetaQNN, a meta-modeling algorithm based on reinforcement learning to automatically generate high-performing CNN architectures for a given learning task. The learning agent is trained to sequentially choose CNN layers using Q-learning with an ϵ-greedy exploration strategy and experience replay. The agent explores a large but finite space of possible architectures and iteratively discovers designs with improved performance on the learning task. On image classification benchmarks, the agent-designed networks (consisting of only standard convolution, pooling, and fully-connected layers) beat existing networks designed with the same layer types and are competitive against the state-of-the-art methods that use more complex layer types. We also outperform existing meta-modeling approaches for network design on image classification tasks.
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