Random Search and Reproducibility for Neural Architecture Search
Proceedings of The 35th Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence Conference, PMLR 115:367-377, 2020.
Neural architecture search (NAS) is a promising research direction that has the potential to replace expert-designed networks with learned, task-specific architectures. In order to help ground the empirical results in this field, we propose new NAS baselines that build off the following observations: (i) NAS is a specialized hyperparameter optimization problem; and (ii) random search is a competitive baseline for hyperparameter optimization. Leveraging these observations, we evaluate both random search with early-stopping and a novel random search with weight-sharing algorithm on two standard NAS benchmarks—PTB and CIFAR-10. Our results show that random search with early-stopping is a competitive NAS baseline, e.g., it performs at least as well as ENAS, a leading NAS method, on both benchmarks. Additionally, random search with weight-sharing outperforms random search with early-stopping, achieving a state-of-the-art NAS result on PTB and a highly competitive result on CIFAR-10. Finally, we explore the existing reproducibility issues of published NAS results.