# How is the depth of the input related to the depth of the output of a convolutional layer? [duplicate]

Let's suppose I have an image with 16 channels that goes to a convolutional layer, which has 3 trainable $$7 \times 7$$ filters, so the output of this layer has depth 3.

How does the convolutional layer go from 16 to 3 channels? What mathematical operation is applied?

• Here is a related question (if not an exact duplicate).
– nbro
Commented Sep 26, 2021 at 21:55

The reason why you go from 16 to 3 channels is that, in a 2d convolution, filters span the entire depth of the input. Therefore, your filters would actually be $$7 \times 7 \times 16$$ in order to cover all channels of the input.

## Detailed procedure

The output of the convolution automatically has a depth equal to the number of filters (so in your case this is $$3$$) because you have an $$m \times k$$ filter matrix, where $$m$$ is the number of filters and $$k$$ is the number of elements in the unrolled filter (in your case, $$m = 3$$ and $$k = 7 \times 7 \times 16 = 784$$, so the filter matrix is $$3 \times 784$$).

The input is usually unrolled according to the im2col procedure, where each tile corresponding to a single filter location is stretched into a column equal to the unrolled filter size. This is repeated for each filter location, so you end up with a very large matrix of size $$k \times n$$, where $$k$$ is the same as $$k$$ above in the filter matrix, and $$n$$ depends on your padding and stride.

Multiplying the $$m \times k$$ filter matrix with the $$k \times n$$ input matrix gives you an $$m \times n$$ output matrix, where $$m$$ is the number of filters.

You can find some very nice visual explanations of the convolution procedure here and here.

• Ok, that is explaining a lot of things. Thank you very much. Now I also understand why caffe2 is taking a NCVHW ordering for 3D convolutions (N=minibatch size, C=number of channels, V=Video frames, H=height, W=width). Commented Jun 30, 2018 at 2:19

Your input has 16 channels, each of dimension $$m \times n$$. There are 3 filters, namely $$f_1$$, $$f_2$$ and $$f_3$$ of spatial dimensions $$k \times h$$.

We say that a filter is applied to a channel when it is superimposed on the image, starting left-most, performing the operation of multiplying the weights of the filter with the corresponding value in the image and then summing up to a single value and moving the filter to right (then down when it reaches rightmost part) across the image according to the stride of the filter.

When a filter, e.g. $$f_1$$, is applied to a channel say $$c$$, there is a single value. Now, apply them to all channels, we get 16 values and all of them are added up to a single value. $$f_1$$ is moved according to the stride and the same operation is repeated to get an output with a single channel (the number of rows and columns are determined by padding, stride, dilation, and kernel size of the filers).

The aforesaid process is done by all the 3 filters giving rise to 3 channels. In this way, the convolutional layer makes the input go from 16 to 3 channels.

More detailed explanations can be found here.

• It seems that this explanation is slightly wrong. The filter's depth is equal to the input's depth. Here, it seems that you're suggesting that the filter is a matrix, i.e. 2d, so it has depth 1, and that you apply this 2d matrix to each channel of the image separately, but this is not correct.
– nbro
Commented Dec 18, 2021 at 12:19