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ArXiv Preprint

We study the generalization properties of pruned neural networks that are the winners of the lottery ticket hypothesis on datasets of natural images. We analyse their potential under conditions in which training data is scarce and comes from a non-natural domain. Specifically, we investigate whether pruned models that are found on the popular CIFAR-10/100 and Fashion-MNIST datasets, generalize to seven different datasets that come from the fields of digital pathology and digital heritage. Our results show that there are significant benefits in transferring and training sparse architectures over larger parametrized models, since in all of our experiments pruned networks, winners of the lottery ticket hypothesis, significantly outperform their larger unpruned counterparts. These results suggest that winning initializations do contain inductive biases that are generic to some extent, although, as reported by our experiments on the biomedical datasets, their generalization properties can be more limiting than what has been so far observed in the literature.

Matthia Sabatelli, Mike Kestemont, Pierre Geurts