Mitigating Forgetting in Online Continual Learning via Instance-Aware Parameterization

NeurIPS 2020

Abstract: Online continual learning is a challenging scenario where a model needs to learn from a continuous stream of data without revisiting any previously encountered data instances. The phenomenon of catastrophic forgetting is worsened since the model should not only address the forgetting at the task-level but also at the data instance-level within the same task. To mitigate this, we leverage the concept of "instance awareness" in the neural network, where each data instance is classified by a path in the network searched by the controller from a meta-graph. To preserve the knowledge we learn from previous instances, we proposed a method to protect the path by restricting the gradient updates of one instance from overriding past updates calculated from previous instances if these instances are not similar. On the other hand, it also encourages fine-tuning the path if the incoming instance shares the similarity with previous instances. The mechanism of selecting paths according to instances similarity is naturally determined by the controller, which is compact and online updated. Experimental results show that the proposed method outperforms state-of-the-arts in online continual learning. Furthermore, the proposed method is evaluated against a realistic setting where the boundaries between tasks are blurred. Experimental results confirm that the proposed method outperforms the state-of-the-arts on CIFAR-10, CIFAR-100, and Tiny-ImageNet.