Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 35 (NeurIPS 2022) Main Conference Track
Michael Zhang, Christopher Ré
While large pretrained foundation models (FMs) have shown remarkable zero-shot classification robustness to dataset-level distribution shifts, their robustness to subpopulation or group shifts is relatively underexplored. We study this problem, and find that foundation models such as CLIP may not be robust to various group shifts. Across 9 robustness benchmarks, zero-shot classification with their embeddings results in gaps of up to 80.7 percentage points (pp) between average and worst-group accuracy. Unfortunately, existing methods to improve robustness require retraining, which can be prohibitively expensive on large foundation models. We also find that efficient ways to improve model inference (e.g. via adapters, lightweight networks that transform FM embeddings) do not consistently improve and can sometimes hurt group robustness compared to zero-shot. We therefore develop an adapter training strategy to effectively and efficiently improve FM group robustness. Our motivating observation is that while poor robustness results from groups in the same class being embedded far apart in the foundation model "embedding space," standard adapter training may not actually bring these points closer together. We thus propose contrastive adapting, which contrastively trains adapters to bring sample embeddings close to both their ground-truth class embeddings and same-class sample embeddings. Across the 9 robustness benchmarks, contrastive adapting consistently improves group robustness, raising worst-group accuracy by 8.5 to 56.0 pp over zero-shot. Our approach is also efficient, doing so without any FM finetuning and only a fixed set of FM embeddings. On popular benchmarks such as Waterbirds and CelebA, this leads to worst-group accuracy comparable to state-of-the-art methods, while only training <1% of the model parameters.