Overcoming Catastrophic Forgetting via Hessian-free Curvature EstimatesDownload PDF

25 Sep 2019 (modified: 24 Dec 2019)ICLR 2020 Conference Blind SubmissionReaders: Everyone
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  • TL;DR: This paper provides an approach to address catastrophic forgetting via Hessian-free curvature estimates
  • Abstract: Learning neural networks with gradient descent over a long sequence of tasks is problematic as their fine-tuning to new tasks overwrites the network weights that are important for previous tasks. This leads to a poor performance on old tasks – a phenomenon framed as catastrophic forgetting. While early approaches use task rehearsal and growing networks that both limit the scalability of the task sequence orthogonal approaches build on regularization. Based on the Fisher information matrix (FIM) changes to parameters that are relevant to old tasks are penalized, which forces the task to be mapped into the available remaining capacity of the network. This requires to calculate the Hessian around a mode, which makes learning tractable. In this paper, we introduce Hessian-free curvature estimates as an alternative method to actually calculating the Hessian. In contrast to previous work, we exploit the fact that most regions in the loss surface are flat and hence only calculate a Hessian-vector-product around the surface that is relevant for the current task. Our experiments show that on a variety of well-known task sequences we either significantly outperform or are en par with previous work.
  • Keywords: catastrophic forgetting, multi-task learning, continual learning
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