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Where Should We Begin? A Low-Level Exploration of Weight Initialization Impact on Quantized Behaviour of Deep Neural Networks


With the proliferation of deep convolutional neural network (CNN) algorithms for mobile processing, limited precision quantization has become an essential tool for CNN efficiency. Consequently, various works have sought to design fixed precision quantization algorithms and quantization-focused optimization techniques that minimize quantization induced performance degradation. However, there is little concrete understanding of how various CNN design decisions/best practices affect quantized inference behaviour. Weight initialization strategies are often associated with solving issues such as vanishing/exploding gradients but an often-overlooked aspect is their impact on the final trained distributions of each layer. We present an in-depth, fine-grained ablation study of the effect of different weights initializations on the final distributions of weights and activations of different CNN architectures. The fine-grained, layerwise analysis enables us to gain deep insights on how initial weights distributions will affect final accuracy and quantized behaviour. To our best knowledge, we are the first to perform such a low-level, in-depth quantitative analysis of weights initialization and its effect on quantized behaviour.