Semi-Supervised Contrastive Learning for Deep Regression with Ordinal Rankings from Spectral Seriation

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Weihang Dai, Yao DU, Hanru Bai, Kwang-Ting Cheng, Xiaomeng Li


Contrastive learning methods can be applied to deep regression by enforcing label distance relationships in feature space. However, these methods are limited to labeled data only unlike for classification, where unlabeled data can be used for contrastive pretraining. In this work, we extend contrastive regression methods to allow unlabeled data to be used in a semi-supervised setting, thereby reducing the reliance on manual annotations. We observe that the feature similarity matrix between unlabeled samples still reflect inter-sample relationships, and that an accurate ordinal relationship can be recovered through spectral seriation algorithms if the level of error is within certain bounds. By using the recovered ordinal relationship for contrastive learning on unlabeled samples, we can allow more data to be used for feature representation learning, thereby achieve more robust results. The ordinal rankings can also be used to supervise predictions on unlabeled samples, which can serve as an additional training signal. We provide theoretical guarantees and empirical support through experiments on different datasets, demonstrating that our method can surpass existing state-of-the-art semi-supervised deep regression methods. To the best of our knowledge, this work is the first to explore using unlabeled data to perform contrastive learning for regression.