Tutorial 6: Customize Schedule

In this tutorial, we will introduce some methods about how to construct optimizers, customize learning rate and momentum schedules, parameter-wise finely configuration, gradient clipping, gradient accumulation, and customize self-implemented methods for the project.

Customize optimizer supported by PyTorch

We already support to use all the optimizers implemented by PyTorch, and to use and modify them, please change the optimizer field of config files.

For example, if you want to use SGD, the modification could be as the following.

optimizer = dict(type='SGD', lr=0.0003, weight_decay=0.0001)

To modify the learning rate of the model, just modify the lr in the config of optimizer. You can also directly set other arguments according to the API doc of PyTorch.

For example, if you want to use Adam with the setting like torch.optim.Adam(params, lr=0.001, betas=(0.9, 0.999), eps=1e-08, weight_decay=0, amsgrad=False) in PyTorch, the config should looks like.

optimizer = dict(type='Adam', lr=0.001, betas=(0.9, 0.999), eps=1e-08, weight_decay=0, amsgrad=False)

Customize learning rate schedules

Learning rate decay

Learning rate decay is widely used to improve performance. And to use learning rate decay, please set the lr_confg field in config files.

For example, we use step policy as the default learning rate decay policy of ResNet, and the config is:

lr_config = dict(policy='step', step=[100, 150])

Then during training, the program will call StepLRHook periodically to update the learning rate.

We also support many other learning rate schedules here, such as CosineAnnealing and Poly schedule. Here are some examples

  • ConsineAnnealing schedule:

    lr_config = dict(
        warmup_ratio=1.0 / 10,
  • Poly schedule:

    lr_config = dict(policy='poly', power=0.9, min_lr=1e-4, by_epoch=False)

Warmup strategy

In the early stage, training is easy to be volatile, and warmup is a technique to reduce volatility. With warmup, the learning rate will increase gradually from a minor value to the expected value.

In MMClassification, we use lr_config to configure the warmup strategy, the main parameters are as follows:

  • warmup: The warmup curve type. Please choose one from ‘constant’, ‘linear’, ‘exp’ and None, and None means disable warmup.

  • warmup_by_epoch : if warmup by epoch or not, default to be True, if set to be False, warmup by iter.

  • warmup_iters : the number of warm-up iterations, when warmup_by_epoch=True, the unit is epoch; when warmup_by_epoch=False, the unit is the number of iterations (iter).

  • warmup_ratio : warm-up initial learning rate will calculate as lr = lr * warmup_ratio

Here are some examples

  1. linear & warmup by iter

    lr_config = dict(
        warmup_iters=20 * 1252,
  2. exp & warmup by epoch

    lr_config = dict(


After completing your configuration file,you could use learning rate visualization tool to draw the corresponding learning rate adjustment curve.

Customize momentum schedules

We support the momentum scheduler to modify the model’s momentum according to learning rate, which could make the model converge in a faster way.

Momentum scheduler is usually used with LR scheduler, for example, the following config is used to accelerate convergence. For more details, please refer to the implementation of CyclicLrUpdater and CyclicMomentumUpdater.

Here is an example

lr_config = dict(
    target_ratio=(10, 1e-4),
momentum_config = dict(
    target_ratio=(0.85 / 0.95, 1),

Parameter-wise finely configuration

Some models may have some parameter-specific settings for optimization, for example, no weight decay to the BatchNorm layer or using different learning rates for different network layers. To finely configuration them, we can use the paramwise_cfg option in optimizer.

We provide some examples here and more usages refer to DefaultOptimizerConstructor.

  • Using specified options

    The DefaultOptimizerConstructor provides options including bias_lr_mult, bias_decay_mult, norm_decay_mult, dwconv_decay_mult, dcn_offset_lr_mult and bypass_duplicate to configure special optimizer behaviors of bias, normalization, depth-wise convolution, deformable convolution and duplicated parameter. E.g:

    1. No weight decay to the BatchNorm layer

    optimizer = dict(
  • Using custom_keys dict

    MMClassification can use custom_keys to specify different parameters to use different learning rates or weight decays, for example:

    1. No weight decay for specific parameters

    paramwise_cfg = dict(
            'backbone.cls_token': dict(decay_mult=0.0),
            'backbone.pos_embed': dict(decay_mult=0.0)
    optimizer = dict(
    1. Using a smaller learning rate and a weight decay for the backbone layers

    optimizer = dict(
        # 'lr' for backbone and 'weight_decay' are 0.1 * lr and 0.9 * weight_decay
            custom_keys={'backbone': dict(lr_mult=0.1, decay_mult=0.9)}))

Gradient clipping and gradient accumulation

Besides the basic function of PyTorch optimizers, we also provide some enhancement functions, such as gradient clipping, gradient accumulation, etc., refer to MMCV.

Gradient clipping

During the training process, the loss function may get close to a cliffy region and cause gradient explosion. And gradient clipping is helpful to stabilize the training process. More introduction can be found in this page.

Currently we support grad_clip option in optimizer_config, and the arguments refer to PyTorch Documentation.

Here is an example:

optimizer_config = dict(grad_clip=dict(max_norm=35, norm_type=2))
# norm_type: type of the used p-norm, here norm_type is 2.

When inheriting from base and modifying configs, if grad_clip=None in base, _delete_=True is needed. For more details about _delete_ you can refer to TUTORIAL 1: LEARN ABOUT CONFIGS. For example,

_base_ = [./_base_/schedules/]

optimizer_config = dict(grad_clip=dict(max_norm=35, norm_type=2), _delete_=True, type='OptimizerHook')
# you can ignore type if type is 'OptimizerHook', otherwise you must add "type='xxxxxOptimizerHook'" here

Gradient accumulation

When computing resources are lacking, the batch size can only be set to a small value, which may affect the performance of models. Gradient accumulation can be used to solve this problem.

Here is an example:

data = dict(samples_per_gpu=64)
optimizer_config = dict(type="GradientCumulativeOptimizerHook", cumulative_iters=4)

Indicates that during training, back-propagation is performed every 4 iters. And the above is equivalent to:

data = dict(samples_per_gpu=256)
optimizer_config = dict(type="OptimizerHook")


When the optimizer hook type is not specified in optimizer_config, OptimizerHook is used by default.

Customize self-implemented methods

In academic research and industrial practice, it may be necessary to use optimization methods not implemented by MMClassification, and you can add them through the following methods.


This part will modify the MMClassification source code or add code to the MMClassification framework, beginners can skip it.

Customize self-implemented optimizer

1. Define a new optimizer

A customized optimizer could be defined as below.

Assume you want to add an optimizer named MyOptimizer, which has arguments a, b, and c. You need to create a new directory named mmcls/core/optimizer. And then implement the new optimizer in a file, e.g., in mmcls/core/optimizer/

from mmcv.runner import OPTIMIZERS
from torch.optim import Optimizer

class MyOptimizer(Optimizer):

    def __init__(self, a, b, c):

2. Add the optimizer to registry

To find the above module defined above, this module should be imported into the main namespace at first. There are two ways to achieve it.

  • Modify mmcls/core/optimizer/ to import it into optimizer package, and then modify mmcls/core/ to import the new optimizer package.

    Create the mmcls/core/optimizer folder and the mmcls/core/optimizer/ file if they don’t exist. The newly defined module should be imported in mmcls/core/optimizer/ and mmcls/core/ so that the registry will find the new module and add it:

# In mmcls/core/optimizer/
from .my_optimizer import MyOptimizer # MyOptimizer maybe other class name

__all__ = ['MyOptimizer']
# In mmcls/core/
from .optimizer import *  # noqa: F401, F403
  • Use custom_imports in the config to manually import it

custom_imports = dict(imports=['mmcls.core.optimizer.my_optimizer'], allow_failed_imports=False)

The module mmcls.core.optimizer.my_optimizer will be imported at the beginning of the program and the class MyOptimizer is then automatically registered. Note that only the package containing the class MyOptimizer should be imported. mmcls.core.optimizer.my_optimizer.MyOptimizer cannot be imported directly.

3. Specify the optimizer in the config file

Then you can use MyOptimizer in optimizer field of config files. In the configs, the optimizers are defined by the field optimizer like the following:

optimizer = dict(type='SGD', lr=0.02, momentum=0.9, weight_decay=0.0001)

To use your own optimizer, the field can be changed to

optimizer = dict(type='MyOptimizer', a=a_value, b=b_value, c=c_value)

Customize optimizer constructor

Some models may have some parameter-specific settings for optimization, e.g. weight decay for BatchNorm layers.

Although our DefaultOptimizerConstructor is powerful, it may still not cover your need. If that, you can do those fine-grained parameter tuning through customizing optimizer constructor.

from mmcv.runner.optimizer import OPTIMIZER_BUILDERS

class MyOptimizerConstructor:

    def __init__(self, optimizer_cfg, paramwise_cfg=None):

    def __call__(self, model):
        ...      # Construct your optimzier here.
        return my_optimizer

The default optimizer constructor is implemented here, which could also serve as a template for new optimizer constructor.

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