The Lottery Ticket Hypothesis: Can You Find Winning Ticket Neurons?

Moklesur Rahman
3 min readMar 22
Photo by Mel Poole on Unsplash

Neural networks have shown remarkable success in various domains, ranging from image classification to natural language processing. Despite their impressive performance, deep neural networks are known to be computationally expensive and require significant hardware resources to train and deploy. To address this issue, researchers have explored the concept of neural network pruning, which involves removing a subset of weights or neurons from the network without significantly affecting its accuracy. One of the most recent and promising approaches to neural network pruning is the Lottery Ticket Hypothesis.

The Lottery Ticket Hypothesis was proposed by Jonathan Frankle and Michael Carbin in their 2018 paper, “The Lottery Ticket Hypothesis: Finding Sparse, Trainable Neural Networks”. The hypothesis states that a dense neural network contains a subnetwork, called a “winning ticket,” that can be pruned down to a smaller size without compromising its performance. This winning ticket is a subset of the original network that is initialized with the same weights as the dense network and is able to achieve comparable accuracy after training for a much shorter period.

The idea behind the Lottery Ticket Hypothesis is that during the random weight initialization of a neural network, some connections are assigned weights that are important for the network’s performance, while others are assigned weights that have little impact. The winning ticket is a subset of these important connections that are critical for the network’s success. By identifying and pruning away the unimportant weights, the network becomes smaller, faster, and more efficient, while still maintaining its accuracy.

To test the validity of the Lottery Ticket Hypothesis, Frankle and Carbin conducted experiments on various network architectures and datasets, including LeNet-5 on MNIST and ResNet-50 on ImageNet. Their experiments showed that the winning tickets could be found in all cases, and the pruned networks achieved similar or even better performance than the original dense networks.

One of the key advantages of the Lottery Ticket Hypothesis is that it allows for a significant reduction in the number of weights and thus, computational resources required for training and inference…

Moklesur Rahman

PhD student | Computer Science | University of Milan | Data science | AI in Cardiology | Writer | Researcher