Designing Neural Network Architectures using Reinforcement Learning

Bowen Baker, Otkrist Gupta, Nikhil Naik, Ramesh Raskar
November, 2016


At present, designing convolutional neural network (CNN) architectures requires both human expertise and labor. New architectures are handcrafted by careful experimentation or modified from a handful of existing networks. We propose a meta-modeling approach based on reinforcement learning to automatically generate high-performing CNN architectures for a given learning task. The learning agent is trained to sequentially choose CNN layers using Q-learning with an ϵ-greedy exploration strategy and experience replay. The agent explores a large but finite space of possible architectures and iteratively discovers designs with improved performance on the learning task. On image classification benchmarks, the agent-designed networks (consisting of only standard convolution, pooling, and fully-connected layers) beat existing networks designed with the same layer types and are competitive against the state-of-the-art methods that use more complex layer types. We also outperform existing meta-modeling approaches for network design on image classification tasks.

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