Beyond Size: How Gradients Shape Pruning Decisions in Large Language Models

Published on Nov 8, 2023


Large Language Models (LLMs) with a billion or more parameters are prime targets for network pruning, which aims to reduce a portion of the network weights without compromising performance. Prior approaches such as Weights Magnitude, SparseGPT, and Wanda, either concentrated solely on weights or integrated weights with activations for sparsity. However, they overlooked the informative gradients derived from pretrained large language models. In this paper, we present a novel sparsity-centric pruning method for pretrained LLMs, termed Gradient-based Language Model Pruner (GBLM-Pruner). GBLM-Pruner leverages the first-order term of the Taylor expansion, operating in a training-free manner by harnessing properly normalized gradients from a few calibration samples to determine the importance pruning score, and substantially outperforms competitive counterparts like SparseGPT and Wanda in multiple benchmarks. Intriguing, after incorporating gradients, the unstructured pruning method tends to reveal some structural patterns post-pruning, which mirrors the geometric interdependence inherent in the LLMs' parameter structure. Additionally, GBLM-Pruner functions without any subsequent retraining or weight updates to maintain its simplicity as other counterparts. Extensive evaluations on LLaMA-1 and LLaMA-2 across various language benchmarks and perplexity show that GBLM-Pruner surpasses magnitude pruning, Wanda (weights+activations) and SparseGPT (weights+activations+weight update) by significant margins. Our code and models are available at


Sign up or log in to comment

Models citing this paper 0

No model linking this paper

Cite in a model to link it from this page.

Datasets citing this paper 0

No dataset linking this paper

Cite in a dataset to link it from this page.

Spaces citing this paper 0

No Space linking this paper

Cite in a Space to link it from this page.

Collections including this paper 1