Norm Matters: Efficient and Accurate Normalization Schemes in Deep Networks

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Over the past few years batch-normalization has been commonly used in deep networks, allowing faster training and high performance for a wide variety of applications. However, the reasons behind its merits remained unanswered, with several shortcomings that hindered its use for certain tasks. In this work we present a novel view on the purpose and function of normalization methods and weight-decay, as tools to decouple weights' norm from the underlying optimized objective. We also improve the use of weight-normalization and show the connection between practices such as normalization, weight decay and learning-rate adjustments. Finally, we suggest several alternatives to the widely used L2 batch-norm, using normalization in L1 and L∞ spaces that can substantially improve numerical stability in low-precision implementations as well as provide computational and memory benefits. We demonstrate that such methods enable the first batch-norm alternative to work for half-precision implementations.