We propose a method for learning CNN structures that is more efficient than previous approaches: instead of using reinforcement learning (RL) or genetic algorithms (GA), we use a sequential model-based optimization (SMBO) strategy, in which we search for architectures in order of increasing complexity, while simultaneously learning a surrogate function to guide the search, similar to A* search. On the CIFAR-10 dataset, our method finds a CNN structure with the same classification accuracy (3.41% error rate) as the RL method of Zoph et al. (2017), but 2 times faster (in terms of number of models evaluated). It also outperforms the GA method of Liu et al. (2017), which finds a model with worse performance (3.63% error rate), and takes 5 times longer. Finally we show that the model we learned on CIFAR also works well at the task of ImageNet classification. In particular, we match the state-of-the-art performance of 82.9% top-1 and 96.1% top-5 accuracy.
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