Ah, here is some insight Christoph, Tom et al. !
Training Quantized Nets: A Deeper Understanding by Hao Li, Soham De, Zheng Xu, Christoph Studer, Hanan Samet, Tom Goldstein
Currently, deep neural networks are deployed on low-power embedded devices by first training a full-precision model using powerful computing hardware, and then deriving a corresponding low-precision model for efficient inference on such systems. However, training models directly with coarsely quantized weights is a key step towards learning on embedded platforms that have limited computing resources, memory capacity, and power consumption. Numerous recent publications have studied methods for training quantized network, but these studies have mostly been empirical. In this work, we investigate training methods for quantized neural networks from a theoretical viewpoint. We first explore accuracy guarantees for training methods under convexity assumptions. We then look at the behavior of algorithms for non-convex problems, and we show that training algorithms that exploit high-precision representations have an important annealing property that purely quantized training methods lack, which explains many of the observed empirical differences between these types of algorithms.
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