Auto-scaling Vision Transformers without Training

Wuyang Chen · Wei Huang · Xianzhi Du · Xiaodan Song · Zhangyang Wang · Dengyong Zhou


Keywords: [ neural architecture search ] [ Efficient training ]

[ Abstract ]
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Wed 27 Apr 10:30 a.m. PDT — 12:30 p.m. PDT


This work targets automated designing and scaling of Vision Transformers (ViTs). The motivation comes from two pain spots: 1) the lack of efficient and principled methods for designing and scaling ViTs; 2) the tremendous computational cost of training ViT that is much heavier than its convolution counterpart. To tackle these issues, we propose As-ViT, an auto-scaling framework for ViTs without training, which automatically discovers and scales up ViTs in an efficient and principled manner. Specifically, we first design a "seed" ViT topology by leveraging a training-free search process. This extremely fast search is fulfilled by a comprehensive study of ViT's network complexity, yielding a strong Kendall-tau correlation with ground-truth accuracies. Second, starting from the "seed" topology, we automate the scaling rule for ViTs by growing widths/depths to different ViT layers. This results in a series of architectures with different numbers of parameters in a single run. Finally, based on the observation that ViTs can tolerate coarse tokenization in early training stages, we propose a progressive tokenization strategy to train ViTs faster and cheaper. As a unified framework, As-ViT achieves strong performance on classification (83.5% top1 on ImageNet-1k) and detection (52.7% mAP on COCO) without any manual crafting nor scaling of ViT architectures: the end-to-end model design and scaling process costs only 12 hours on one V100 GPU. Our code is available at

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