TernaryNet: faster deep model inference without GPUs for medical 3D segmentation using sparse and binary convolutions

Mattias P. Heinrich*, Max Blendowski, Ozan Oktay

*Corresponding author for this work


Purpose: Deep convolutional neural networks (DCNN) are currently ubiquitous in medical imaging. While their versatility and high-quality results for common image analysis tasks including segmentation, localisation and prediction is astonishing, the large representational power comes at the cost of highly demanding computational effort. This limits their practical applications for image-guided interventions and diagnostic (point-of-care) support using mobile devices without graphics processing units (GPU). Methods: We propose a new scheme that approximates both trainable weights and neural activations in deep networks by ternary values and tackles the open question of backpropagation when dealing with non-differentiable functions. Our solution enables the removal of the expensive floating-point matrix multiplications throughout any convolutional neural network and replaces them by energy- and time-preserving binary operators and population counts. Results: We evaluate our approach for the segmentation of the pancreas in CT. Here, our ternary approximation within a fully convolutional network leads to more than 90% memory reductions and high accuracy (without any post-processing) with a Dice overlap of 71.0% that comes close to the one obtained when using networks with high-precision weights and activations. We further provide a concept for sub-second inference without GPUs and demonstrate significant improvements in comparison with binary quantisation and without our proposed ternary hyperbolic tangent continuation. Conclusions: We present a key enabling technique for highly efficient DCNN inference without GPUs that will help to bring the advances of deep learning to practical clinical applications. It has also great promise for improving accuracies in large-scale medical data retrieval.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)1311-1320
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 01.09.2018


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