Peer Collaborative Learning for Online Knowledge Distillation


  • Guile Wu Queen Mary University of London
  • Shaogang Gong Queen Mary University of London


Learning on the Edge & Model Compression


Traditional knowledge distillation uses a two-stage training strategy to transfer knowledge from a high-capacity teacher model to a compact student model, which relies heavily on the pre-trained teacher. Recent online knowledge distillation alleviates this limitation by collaborative learning, mutual learning and online ensembling, following a one-stage end-to-end training fashion. However, collaborative learning and mutual learning fail to construct an online high-capacity teacher, whilst online ensembling ignores the collaboration among branches and its logit summation impedes the further optimisation of the ensemble teacher. In this work, we propose a novel Peer Collaborative Learning method for online knowledge distillation, which integrates online ensembling and network collaboration into a unified framework. Specifically, given a target network, we construct a multi-branch network for training, in which each branch is called a peer. We perform random augmentation multiple times on the inputs to peers and assemble feature representations outputted from peers with an additional classifier as the peer ensemble teacher. This helps to transfer knowledge from a high-capacity teacher to peers, and in turn further optimises the ensemble teacher. Meanwhile, we employ the temporal mean model of each peer as the peer mean teacher to collaboratively transfer knowledge among peers, which helps each peer to learn richer knowledge and facilitates to optimise a more stable model with better generalisation. Extensive experiments on CIFAR-10, CIFAR-100 and ImageNet show that the proposed method significantly improves the generalisation of various backbone networks and outperforms the state-of-the-art methods.




How to Cite

Wu, G., & Gong, S. (2021). Peer Collaborative Learning for Online Knowledge Distillation. Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 35(12), 10302-10310. Retrieved from



AAAI Technical Track on Machine Learning V