Keywords: causal representation learning, out-of-distribution generalization, generative model, variational auto-encoder, variational inference, domain adaptation
TL;DR: A supervised generative model with guarantees on the identifiability of the latent cause of prediction and on the generalizability to out-of-distribution cases.
Abstract: Conventional supervised learning methods, especially deep ones, are found to be sensitive to out-of-distribution (OOD) examples, largely because the learned representation mixes the semantic factor with the variation factor due to their domain-specific correlation, while only the semantic factor causes the output. To address the problem, we propose a Causal Semantic Generative model (CSG) based on a causal reasoning so that the two factors are modeled separately, and develop methods for OOD prediction from a single training domain, which is common and challenging. The methods are based on the causal invariance principle, with a novel design in variational Bayes for both efficient learning and easy prediction. Theoretically, we prove that under certain conditions, CSG can identify the semantic factor by fitting training data, and this semantic-identification guarantees the boundedness of OOD generalization error and the success of adaptation. Empirical study shows improved OOD performance over prevailing baselines.
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