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SQuant: On-the-Fly Data-Free Quantization via Diagonal Hessian Approximation

Cong Guo · Yuxian Qiu · Jingwen Leng · Xiaotian Gao · Chen Zhang · Yunxin Liu · Fan Yang · Yuhao Zhu · Minyi Guo

Keywords: [ Hessian matrix ] [ Approximation ]


Quantization of deep neural networks (DNN) has been proven effective for compressing and accelerating DNN models. Data-free quantization (DFQ) is a promising approach without the original datasets under privacy-sensitive and confidential scenarios. However, current DFQ solutions degrade accuracy, need synthetic data to calibrate networks, and are time-consuming and costly. This paper proposes an on-the-fly DFQ framework with sub-second quantization time, called SQuant, which can quantize networks on inference-only devices with low computation and memory requirements. With the theoretical analysis of the second-order information of DNN task loss, we decompose and approximate the Hessian-based optimization objective into three diagonal sub-items, which have different areas corresponding to three dimensions of weight tensor: element-wise, kernel-wise, and output channel-wise. Then, we progressively compose sub-items and propose a novel data-free optimization objective in the discrete domain, minimizing Constrained Absolute Sum of Error (or CASE in short), which surprisingly does not need any dataset and is even not aware of network architecture. We also design an efficient algorithm without back-propagation to further reduce the computation complexity of the objective solver. Finally, without fine-tuning and synthetic datasets, SQuant accelerates the data-free quantization process to a sub-second level with >30% accuracy improvement over the existing data-free post-training quantization works, with the evaluated models under 4-bit quantization. We have open-sourced the SQuant framework at

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