Keywords: Meta learning, contrastive learning, few shot learning
Abstract: Model-agnostic meta-learning (MAML) is one of the most popular and widely adopted meta-learning algorithms, achieving remarkable success in various learning problems. Yet, with the unique design of nested inner-loop and outer-loop updates, which govern the task-specific and meta-model-centric learning, respectively, the underlying learning objective of MAML remains implicit, impeding a more straightforward understanding of it. In this paper, we provide a new perspective of the working mechanism of MAML. We discover that MAML is analogous to a meta-learner using a supervised contrastive objective in classification. The query features are pulled towards the support features of the same class and against those of different classes. Such contrastiveness is experimentally verified via an analysis based on the cosine similarity. Moreover, we reveal that vanilla MAML has an undesirable interference term originating from the random initialization and the cross-task interaction. We thus propose a simple but effective technique, the zeroing trick, to alleviate the interference. Extensive experiments are conducted on both mini-ImageNet and Omniglot datasets to validate the consistent improvement brought by our proposed method.
One-sentence Summary: The Model-agnostic meta learning (MAML) algorithm is a noisy supervised contrastive learner where the noise comes from random initialization and cross-task interference.
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