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CafeBoost: Causal Feature Boost To Eliminate Task-Induced Bias for Class Incremental Learning

Benliu Qiu · Hongliang Li · Haitao Wen · Heqian Qiu · Lanxiao Wang · Fanman Meng · Qingbo Wu · Lili Pan

West Building Exhibit Halls ABC 349


Continual learning requires a model to incrementally learn a sequence of tasks and aims to predict well on all the learned tasks so far, which notoriously suffers from the catastrophic forgetting problem. In this paper, we find a new type of bias appearing in continual learning, coined as task-induced bias. We place continual learning into a causal framework, based on which we find the task-induced bias is reduced naturally by two underlying mechanisms in task and domain incremental learning. However, these mechanisms do not exist in class incremental learning (CIL), in which each task contains a unique subset of classes. To eliminate the task-induced bias in CIL, we devise a causal intervention operation so as to cut off the causal path that causes the task-induced bias, and then implement it as a causal debias module that transforms biased features into unbiased ones. In addition, we propose a training pipeline to incorporate the novel module into existing methods and jointly optimize the entire architecture. Our overall approach does not rely on data replay, and is simple and convenient to plug into existing methods. Extensive empirical study on CIFAR-100 and ImageNet shows that our approach can improve accuracy and reduce forgetting of well-established methods by a large margin.

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