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Published on Apr 19, 2020


We present a class of efficient models called MobileNets for mobile and embedded vision applications. MobileNets are based on a streamlined architecture that uses depthwise separable convolutions to build light weight deep neural networks. We introduce two simple global hyperparameters that efficiently trade off between latency and accuracy.

These hyper-parameters allow the model builder to choose the right sized model for their application based on the constraints of the problem. We present extensive experiments on resource and accuracy tradeoffs and show strong performance compared to other popular models on ImageNet classification. We then demonstrate the effectiveness of MobileNets across a wide range of applications and use cases including object detection, finegrain classification, face attributes and large scale geo-localization.


Convolutional neural networks have become ubiquitous in computer vision ever since AlexNet popularized deep convolutional neural networks by winning the ImageNet Challenge: ILSVRC 2012. The general trend has been to make deeper and more complicated networks in order to achieve higher accuracy . However, these advances to improve accuracy are not necessarily making networks more efficient with respect to size and speed. In many real world applications such as robotics, self-driving car and augmented reality, the recognition tasks need to be carried out in a timely fashion on a computationally limited platform.

This paper describes an efficient network architecture and a set of two hyper-parameters in order to build very small, low latency models that can be easily matched to the design requirements for mobile and embedded vision applications. Section 2 reviews prior work in building small models.

Prior Work

There has been rising interest in building small and efficient neural networks in the recent literature, e.g. Many different approaches can be generally categorized into either compressing pretrained networks or training small networks directly. This paper proposes a class of network architectures that allows a model developer to specifically choose a small network that matches the resource restrictions (latency, size) for their application. MobileNets primarily focus on optimizing for latency but also yield small networks. Many papers on small networks focus only on size but do not consider speed.

MobileNets are built primarily from depthwise separable convolutions initially introduced in and subsequently used in Inception models to reduce the computation in the first few layers. Flattened networks build a network out of fully factorized convolutions and showed the potential of extremely factorized networks. Independent of this current paper, Factorized Networks introduces a similar factorized convolution as well as the use of topological connections. Subsequently, the Xception network demonstrated how to scale up depthwise separable filters to out perform Inception V3 networks. Another small network is Squeezenet which uses a bottleneck approach to design a very small network. Other reduced computation networks include structured transform networks and deep fried convnets. A different approach for obtaining small networks is shrinking, factorizing or compressing pretrained networks. Compression based on product quantization, hashing and pruning, vector quantization and Huffman coding have been proposed in the literature. Additionally various factorizations have been proposed to speed up pretrained networks. Another method for training small networks is distillation which uses a larger network to teach a smaller network. It is complementary to our approach and is covered in some of our use . Another emerging approach is low bit networks


MobileNet Architecture

In this section we first describe the core layers that MobileNet is built on which are depthwise separable filters. We then describe the MobileNet network structure and conclude with descriptions of the two model shrinking hyperparameters width multiplier and resolution multiplier. 3.1. Depthwise Separable Convolution The MobileNet model is based on depthwise separable convolutions which is a form of factorized convolutions which factorize a standard convolution into a depthwise convolution and a 11 convolution called a pointwise convolution. For MobileNets the depthwise convolution applies a single filter to each input channel.

The pointwise convolution then applies a 11 convolution to combine the outputs the depthwise convolution. A standard convolution both filters and combines inputs into a new set of outputs in one step. The depthwise separable convolution splits this into two layers, a separate layer for filtering and a separate layer for combining. This factorization has the effect of drastically reducing computation and model size. Figure 2 shows how a standard convolution 2(a) is factorized into a depthwise convolution 2(b) and a 1  1 pointwise convolution 2(c). A standard convolutional layer takes as input a DF DF  M feature map F and produces a DF  DF  N feature map G where DF is the spatial width and height of a square input feature map1, M is the number of input channels (input depth),DG is the spatial width and height of a square output feature map and N is the number of output channel (output depth). The standard convolutional layer is parameterized by convolution kernelKof sizeDKDKMN whereDK is the spatial dimension of the kernel assumed to be square and M is number of input channels and N is the number of output channels as defined previously.

Face Attributes

Another use-case for MobileNet is compressing large systems with unknown or esoteric training procedures. In a face attribute classification task, we demonstrate a synergistic relationship between MobileNet and distillation, a knowledge transfer technique for deep networks. We seek to reduce a large face attribute classifier with 75 million parameters and 1600 million Mult-Adds. The classifier is trained on a multi-attribute dataset similar to YFCC100M].

We distill a face attribute classifier using the MobileNet architecture. Distillationworks by training the classifier to emulate the outputs of a larger model2 instead of the ground-truth labels, hence enabling training from large (and potentially infinite) unlabeled datasets. Marrying the scalability of distillation training and the parsimonious parameterization of MobileNet, the end system not only requires no regularization (e.g. weight-decay and early-stopping), but also demonstrates enhanced performances.

It is evident that the MobileNet-based classifier is resilient to aggressive model shrinking: it achieves a similar mean average precision across attributes (mean AP) as the in-house while consuming only 1% the Multi-Adds.

Object Detection

MobileNet can also be deployed as an effective base network in modern object detection systems. We report results for MobileNet trained for object detection on COCO data based on the recent work that won the 2016 COCO challenge . MobileNet is compared to VGG and Inception V2 under both Faster-RCNN and SSD [21] framework. In our experiments, SSD is evaluated with 300 input resolution (SSD 300) and Faster-RCNN is compared with both 300 and 600 input resolution (Faster- RCNN 300, Faster-RCNN 600). The Faster-RCNN model evaluates 300 RPN proposal boxes per image. The models are trained on COCO train+val excluding 8k minival images and evaluated on minival. For both frameworks, MobileNet achieves comparable results to other networks with only a fraction of computational complexity and model size.

MobileNet SSD

Face Embeddings

The FaceNet model is a state of the art face recognition model . It builds face embeddings based on the triplet loss. To build a mobile FaceNet model we use distillation to train by minimizing the squared differences of the output of FaceNet and MobileNet on the training data. Results for very small MobileNet models



We proposed a new model architecture called MobileNets based on depthwise separable convolutions. We investigated some of the important design decisions leading to an efficient model. We then demonstrated how to build smaller and faster MobileNets using width multiplier and resolution multiplier by trading off a reasonable amount of accuracy to reduce size and latency. We then compared different MobileNets to popular models demonstrating superior size, speed and accuracy characteristics. We concluded by demonstrating MobileNet’s effectiveness when applied to a wide variety of tasks. As a next step to help adoption and exploration of MobileNets, we plan on releasing models in Tensor Flow.


[1] M. Abadi, A. Agarwal, P. Barham, E. Brevdo, Z. Chen, C. Citro, G. S. Corrado, A. Davis, J. Dean, M. Devin, et al. Tensorflow: Large-scale machine learning on heterogeneous systems, 2015. Software available from tensorflow. org, 1, 2015. 4

[2] W. Chen, J. T. Wilson, S. Tyree, K. Q. Weinberger, and Y. Chen. Compressing neural networks with the hashing trick. CoRR, abs/1504.04788, 2015. 2

[3] F. Chollet. Xception: Deep learning with depthwise separable convolutions. arXiv preprint arXiv:1610.02357v2, 2016. 1

[4] M. Courbariaux, J.-P. David, and Y. Bengio. Training deep neural networks with low precision multiplications. arXiv preprint arXiv:1412.7024, 2014. 2

[5] S. Han, H. Mao, and W. J. Dally. Deep compression: Compressing deep neural network with pruning, trained quantization and huffman coding. CoRR, abs/1510.00149, 2, 2015.

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