Understanding and Constructing Latent Modality Structures in Multi-Modal Representation Learning

Qian Jiang · Changyou Chen · Han Zhao · Liqun Chen · Qing Ping · Son Dinh Tran · Yi Xu · Belinda Zeng · Trishul Chilimbi

West Building Exhibit Halls ABC 338


Contrastive loss has been increasingly used in learning representations from multiple modalities. In the limit, the nature of the contrastive loss encourages modalities to exactly match each other in the latent space. Yet it remains an open question how the modality alignment affects the downstream task performance. In this paper, based on an information-theoretic argument, we first prove that exact modality alignment is sub-optimal in general for downstream prediction tasks. Hence we advocate that the key of better performance lies in meaningful latent modality structures instead of perfect modality alignment. To this end, we propose three general approaches to construct latent modality structures. Specifically, we design 1) a deep feature separation loss for intra-modality regularization; 2) a Brownian-bridge loss for inter-modality regularization; and 3) a geometric consistency loss for both intra- and inter-modality regularization. Extensive experiments are conducted on two popular multi-modal representation learning frameworks: the CLIP-based two-tower model and the ALBEF-based fusion model. We test our model on a variety of tasks including zero/few-shot image classification, image-text retrieval, visual question answering, visual reasoning, and visual entailment. Our method achieves consistent improvements over existing methods, demonstrating the effectiveness and generalizability of our proposed approach on latent modality structure regularization.

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