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Unveiling the Unseen: Identifiable Clusters in Trained Depthwise Convolutional Kernels

Zahra Babaiee · Peyman Kiasari · Daniela Rus · Radu Grosu

Halle B #16
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Tue 7 May 1:45 a.m. PDT — 3:45 a.m. PDT


Recent advances in depthwise-separable convolutional neural networks (DS-CNNs) have led to novel architectures, that surpass the performance of classical CNNs, by a considerable scalability and accuracy margin. This paper reveals another striking property of DS-CNN architectures: discernible and explainable patterns emerge in their trained depthwise convolutional kernels in all layers. Through an extensive analysis of millions of trained filters, with different sizes and from various models, we employed unsupervised clustering with autoencoders, to categorize these filters. Astonishingly, the patterns converged into a few main clusters, each resembling the difference of Gaussian (DoG) functions, and their first and second-order derivatives. Notably, we classify over 95\% and 90\% of the filters from state-of-the-art ConvNeXtV2 and ConvNeXt models, respectively. This finding is not merely a technological curiosity; it echoes the foundational models neuroscientists have long proposed for the vision systems of mammals. Our results thus deepen our understanding of the emergent properties of trained DS-CNNs and provide a bridge between artificial and biological visual processing systems. More broadly, they pave the way for more interpretable and biologically-inspired neural network designs in the future.

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