TensorFlow model optimization

The TensorFlow Model Optimization Toolkit minimizes the complexity of optimizing machine learning inference.

Inference efficiency is a critical concern when deploying machine learning models because of latency, memory utilization, and in many cases power consumption. Particularly on edge devices, such as mobile and Internet of Things (IoT), resources are further constrained, and model size and efficiency of computation become a major concern.

Computational demand for training grows with the number of models trained on different architectures, whereas the computational demand for inference grows in proportion to the number of users.

Use cases

Model optimization is useful, among other things, for:

  • Reducing latency and cost for inference for both cloud and edge devices (e.g. mobile, IoT).
  • Deploying models on edge devices with restrictions on processing, memory and/or power-consumption.
  • Reducing payload size for over-the-air model updates.
  • Enabling execution on hardware restricted-to or optimized-for fixed-point operations.
  • Optimizing models for special purpose hardware accelerators.

Optimization techniques

The area of model optimization can involve various techniques:

  • Reduce parameter count with pruning and structured pruning.
  • Reduce representational precision with quantization.
  • Update the original model topology to a more efficient one with reduced parameters or faster execution. For example, tensor decomposition methods and distillation

Our toolkit supports post-training quantization, quantization aware training, pruning, and clustering. The toolkit also provides experimental support for collaborative optimization to combine various techniques.


Quantized models are those where we represent the models with lower precision, such as 8-bit integers as opposed to 32-bit float. Lower precision is a requirement to leverage certain hardware.

Sparsity and pruning

Sparse models are those where connections in between operators (i.e. neural network layers) have been pruned, introducing zeros to the parameter tensors.


Clustered models are those where the original model's parameters are replaced with a smaller number of unique values.

Collaborative optimizaiton

The toolkit provides experimental support for collaborative optimization. This enables you to benefit from combining several model compression techniques and simultaneously achieve improved accuracy through quantization aware training.