Keywords: Self-Supervised Learning (SSL), Generalization, Computer vision
TL;DR: Disentangled and uncertainty-aware learning of augmentation invariances during SSL improves generalization on downstream tasks
Abstract: Recent Self-Supervised Learning (SSL) methods are able to learn feature representations that are invariant to different data augmentations, which can then be transferred to downstream tasks of interest. However, different downstream tasks require different invariances for their best performance, so the optimal choice of augmentations for SSL depends on the target task. In this paper, we aim to learn self-supervised features that generalize well across a variety of downstream tasks (e.g., object classification, detection and instance segmentation) without knowing any task information beforehand. We do so by Masked Augmentation Subspace Training (or MAST) to encode in the single feature space the priors from different data augmentations in a factorized way. Specifically, we disentangle the feature space into separate subspaces, each induced by a learnable mask that selects relevant feature dimensions to model invariance to a specific augmentation. We show the success of MAST in jointly capturing generalizable priors from different augmentations, using both unique and shared features across the subspaces. We further show that MAST benefits from uncertainty modeling to reweight ambiguous samples from strong augmentations that may cause similarity mismatch in each subspace. Experiments demonstrate that MAST consistently improves generalization on various downstream tasks, while being task-agnostic and efficient during SSL. We also provide interesting insights about how different augmentations are related and how uncertainty reflects learning difficulty.
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