Song Han


Accelerated Deep Learning Computing





Song Han is an assistant professor at MIT EECS. Dr. Han received the Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford advised by Prof. Bill Dally. Dr. Han’s research focuses on efficient deep learning computing. He proposed “Deep Compression” and “ Efficient Inference Engine” that impacted the industry. His work received the best paper award in ICLR’16 and FPGA’17. The pruning, compression and acceleration techniques have been integrated into many products. His hobbies include biking, snowboarding, drum sets, and design.

My recent research focus on efficient algorithm and hardware for computation-intensive AI applications. I am looking for PhD and UROP students interested in deep learning and computer architecture. Below are the research areas of HAN Lab:
H: High performance, High energy efficiency Hardware
A: AutoML, Architectures and Accelerators for AI
N: Novel algorithms for Neural Networks

Research Interests

Keywords: efficient AI, edge AI, auto AI; model compression, gradient compressioncompact model design, sparsity, auto pruning,  auto quantization, neural architecture search, efficient video recognition, efficient 3D recognition, specialized model, specialized hardware, hardware acceleration, FPGA, neural network and hardware co-design.

In the post-ImageNet era, computer vision and machine learning researchers are solving more complicated AI problems using larger data sets driving the demand for more computation.
 However,  Moore’s Law is slowing down, Dennard scaling has stopped,  the amount of computation per unit cost and power is no longer increasing at its historic rate. This mismatch between supply and demand for computation highlights the need for co-designing efficient machine learning algorithms and domain-specific hardware architectures. The vast design space across algorithm and hardware is difficult to be explored by human engineers. We are constrained not only by computation resource but also human resource. Therefore, we need auto AI techniques. We are recently working on hardware-centric auto AI: ProxylessNAS [ICLR’19], AMC [ECCV’18], HAQ [CVPR’19].

I’m interested in application-driven, domain-specific computer architecture research. I’m interested in achieving higher efficiency by tailoring the hardware architecture to characteristics of the application domain, and also innovating on efficient algorithms that are hardware-friendly (TSM [ICCV’19] for efficient video recognition, PVCNN for efficient 3D point cloud recognition) . My current research center around co-designing efficient algorithms and hardware systems for machine learning, to free AI from the power hungry hardware beasts and democratize AI to cheap mobile devices,  reducing the cost of running deep learning on data centers, as well as automating machine learning model design. I enjoy the research intersections across machine learning algorithms and computer architecture.

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News Blog

  • Nov 2019: SpArch: Efficient Architecture for Sparse Matrix Multiplication is accepted by International Symposium on High-Performance Computer Architecture (HPCA) 2020.


  • Oct 2019: TSM is featured by MIT News, EngadgetNVIDIA News, MIT Technology Review.


  • Oct 2019: HAN Lab team received the first place in the Low Power Computer Vision Challenge, DSP track at ICCV’19 using the Once-for-all Network.
  • June 2019: HAN Lab team received the first place in the Visual Wake-up Word Challenge@CVPR’19. The task is human detection on IoT device that has a tight computation budget:  <250KB model size, <250KB peak memory usage, <60M MAC. The techniques are described in the ProxylessNAS paper. [code][Raspberry Pi and Pixel 3 demo]
  • June 2019: HAN Lab team received the third place in the classification track of the LPIRC competition@CVPR. The task is to perform image classification within 30ms latency on a Pixel-2 phone while achieving higher accuracy. The techniques are described in the ProxylessNAS paper.
  • Jan 2019: Song is appointed to the Robert J. Shillman (1974) Career Development Chair.
  • Jan 2019: “Song Han: Democratizing artificial intelligence with deep compression” by MIT Industry Liaison Program. [article][video]
  • Dec 2018: Our work on Defensive Quantization: When Efficiency Meets Robustness is accepted by ICLR’19. Neural network quantization is becoming an industry standard to compress and efficiently deploy deep learning models. Is model compression a free lunch? No, if not treated carefully. We observe that the conventional quantization approaches are vulnerable to adversarial attacks. This paper aims to raise people’s awareness about the security of the quantized models, and we designed a novel quantization methodology to jointly optimize the efficiency and robustness of deep learning models. [paper][MIT News]
  • Dec 2018: Our work on Learning to Design Circuits appeared at NeurIPS workshop on Machine Learning for Systems. Analog IC design relies on human experts to search for parameters that satisfy circuit specifications with their experience and intuitions, which is highly labor intensive and time consuming. This paper propose a learning based approach to size the transistors and help engineers to shorten the design cycle. [paper]
  • Dec 2018: Our work on ProxylessNAS: Direct Neural Architecture Search on Target Task and Hardware is accepted by ICLR’19. Neural Architecture Search (NAS) is computation intensive. ProxylessNAS saves the GPU hours by 200x than NAS, saves GPU memory by 10x than DARTS, while directly searching on ImageNet. ProxylessNAS is hardware-aware. It can design specialized neural network architecture for different hardware, making inference fast. With >74.5% top-1 accuracy, the measured latency of ProxylessNAS is 1.8x faster than MobileNet-v2, the current industry standard for mobile vision. [paper][code][demo][poster][MIT news][IEEE Spectrum]
  • Sep 2018: Song Han received Amazon Machine Learning Research Award.
  • Sep 2018: Song Han received SONY Faculty Award.
  • Sep 2018: Our work on AMC: AutoML for Model Compression and Acceleration on Mobile Devices is accepted by ECCV’18. This paper proposes learning-based method to perform model compression, rather than relying on human heuristics and rule-based methods. AMC can automate the model compression process, achieve better compression ratio, and also be more sample efficient. It takes shorter time can do better than rule-based heuristics. AMC compresses ResNet-50 by 5x without losing accuracy. AMC makes MobileNet-v1 2x faster with 0.4% loss of accuracy. [paper / bibTeX]
  • June 2018: Song presents invited paper “Bandwidth Efficient Deep Learning” at Design Automation Conference (DAC’18). The paper talks about techniques to save memory bandwidth, networking bandwidth, and engineer bandwidth for efficient deep learning.
  • Feb 26, 2018: Song presented “Bandwidth Efficient Deep Learning: Challenges and Trade-offs” at FPGA’18 panel session.
  • Jan 29, 2018: Deep Gradient Compression is accepted by ICLR’18. This technique can reduce the communication bandwidth by 500x and improves the scalability of large-scale distributed training. [slides].


  • Ph.D. Stanford University, Sep. 2012 to Sep. 2017
  • B.S. Tsinghua University, Aug. 2008 to Jul. 2012


  • Email: FirstnameLastname [at] mit [dot] edu