May 3, 2021
Continual (sequential) training and multitask (simultaneous) training are often attempting to solve the same overall objective: to find a solution that performs well on all considered tasks. The main difference is in the training regimes, where continual learning can only have access to one task at a time, which for neural networks typically leads to catastrophic forgetting. That is, the solution found for a subsequent task does not perform well on the previous ones anymore. However, the relationship between the different minima that the two training regimes arrive at is not well understood. What sets them apart? Is there a local structure that could explain the difference in performance achieved by the two different schemes? Motivated by recent work showing that different minima of the same task are typically connected by very simple curves of low error, we investigate whether multitask and continual solutions are similarly connected. We empirically find that indeed such connectivity can be reliably achieved and, more interestingly, it can be done by a linear path, conditioned on having the same initialization for both. We thoroughly analyze this observation and discuss its significance for the continual learning process. Furthermore, we exploit this finding to propose an effective algorithm that constrains the sequentially learned minima to behave as the multitask solution. We show that our method outperforms several state of the art continual learning algorithms on various vision benchmarks.
The International Conference on Learning Representations (ICLR) is the premier gathering of professionals dedicated to the advancement of the branch of artificial intelligence called representation learning, but generally referred to as deep learning. ICLR is globally renowned for presenting and publishing cutting-edge research on all aspects of deep learning used in the fields of artificial intelligence, statistics and data science, as well as important application areas such as machine vision, computational biology, speech recognition, text understanding, gaming, and robotics.
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