Three continual learning scenarios and a case for generative replay

Gido M. van de Ven, Andreas S. Tolias

Sep 27, 2018 ICLR 2019 Conference Blind Submission readers: everyone Show Bibtex
  • Abstract: Standard artificial neural networks suffer from the well-known issue of catastrophic forgetting, making continual or lifelong learning problematic. Recently, numerous methods have been proposed for continual learning, but due to differences in evaluation protocols it is difficult to directly compare their performance. To enable more meaningful comparisons, we identified three distinct continual learning scenarios based on whether task identity is known and, if it is not, whether it needs to be inferred. Performing the split and permuted MNIST task protocols according to each of these scenarios, we found that regularization-based approaches (e.g., elastic weight consolidation) failed when task identity needed to be inferred. In contrast, generative replay combined with distillation (i.e., using class probabilities as “soft targets”) achieved superior performance in all three scenarios. In addition, we reduced the computational cost of generative replay by integrating the generative model into the main model.
  • Keywords: continual learning, generative models, replay, distillation, variational autoencoder
  • TL;DR: A newly introduced structured comparison of recent methods for continual learning that turns into an argument for and extension of generative replay.
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