Model doesn't seem to be learning using a pretrained VGG16 for transfer learning

I’m trying to use transfer learning to classify facial emotions on the FER2013 dataset from kaggle. I resized the images to 224x224 and converted them to 3 channel grayscale images. While training, there seems to be no progress at all and the loss function graph doesn’t look right either. Is there anything wrong I’m doing? (I’m relatively new to deep learning)

model = torchvision.models.vgg16(pretrained=True)

#model summary

# freezing parameters for pretrained VGG16

for params in model.parameters():

    params.require_grad = False

#number of features in penultimate classifier layer

num_feature = model.classifier[6].in_features

model.classifier[6] = nn.Sequential(

    nn.Linear(num_feature, 256), nn.ReLU(), nn.Dropout(0.2),

    nn.Linear(256, 7))

for params in model.classifier.parameters():

    params.require_grad = True

model =


criterion = nn.CrossEntropyLoss()

optimizer = optim.Adam(model.parameters())

epochs = 10

loss_log = 100

LOSS = []

for epoch in range(epochs):

    epoch_correct = 0

    print(f"Epoch: {epoch+1}/{epochs}")

    for idx,(x,label) in enumerate(x_train_data):

        x =

        label =


        out = model(x)

        loss = criterion(out,label)

        if (idx+1)%loss_log == 0:

            print(f"log loss at {idx}: {loss}")




Here’s the graph:

Try to overfit a small dataset first, e.g. just 10 samples, by playing around with some hyperparameters (e.g. the learning rate) and make sure your model is able to do so.

Also, don’t append the loss directly to a list via:


if you don’t want to call LOSS.backward() at some point, as it would store the complete computation graph and would thus increase the memory usage.
Use LOSS.append(loss.item()) instead.

Yup I’ll try that and thanks for the extra tip. I was wondering if maybe vgg16 just isn’t extracting the right features to classify facial emotions? Maybe trying a more a relevant network will work better like VGGFace2, I’ll still see what I get out of the standard vgg net though .