Mitigating Forgetting in Online Continual Learning with Neuron Calibration

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 (NeurIPS 2021)

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Haiyan Yin, peng yang, Ping Li


Inspired by human intelligence, the research on online continual learning aims to push the limits of the machine learning models to constantly learn from sequentially encountered tasks, with the data from each task being observed in an online fashion. Though recent studies have achieved remarkable progress in improving the online continual learning performance empowered by the deep neural networks-based models, many of today's approaches still suffer a lot from catastrophic forgetting, a persistent challenge for continual learning. In this paper, we present a novel method which attempts to mitigate catastrophic forgetting in online continual learning from a new perspective, i.e., neuron calibration. In particular, we model the neurons in the deep neural networks-based models as calibrated units under a general formulation. Then we formalize a learning framework to effectively train the calibrated model, where neuron calibration could give ubiquitous benefit to balance the stability and plasticity of online continual learning algorithms through influencing both their forward inference path and backward optimization path. Our proposed formulation for neuron calibration is lightweight and applicable to general feed-forward neural networks-based models. We perform extensive experiments to evaluate our method on four benchmark continual learning datasets. The results show that neuron calibration plays a vital role in improving online continual learning performance and our method could substantially improve the state-of-the-art performance on all~the~evaluated~datasets.