Data Parameters: A New Family of Parameters for Learning a Differentiable Curriculum

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32 (NeurIPS 2019)

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Shreyas Saxena, Oncel Tuzel, Dennis DeCoste


Recent works have shown that learning from easier instances first can help deep neural networks (DNNs) generalize better. However, knowing which data to present during different stages of training is a challenging problem. In this work, we address this problem by introducing data parameters. More specifically, we equip each sample and class in a dataset with a learnable parameter (data parameters), which governs their importance in the learning process. During training, at each iteration, as we update the model parameters, we also update the data parameters. These updates are done by gradient descent and do not require hand-crafted rules or design. When applied to image classification task on CIFAR10, CIFAR100,WebVision and ImageNet datasets, and object detection task on KITTI dataset, learning a dynamic curriculum via data parameters leads to consistent gains, without any increase in model complexity or training time. When applied to a noisy dataset, the proposed method learns to learn from clean images and improves over the state-of-the-art methods by 14%. To the best of our knowledge, our work is the first curriculum learning method to show gains on large scale image classification and detection tasks.