Enhancing Knowledge Transfer for Task Incremental Learning with Data-free Subnetwork

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

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Qiang Gao, Xiaojun Shan, Yuchen Zhang, Fan Zhou


As there exist competitive subnetworks within a dense network in concert with Lottery Ticket Hypothesis, we introduce a novel neuron-wise task incremental learning method, namely Data-free Subnetworks (DSN), which attempts to enhance the elastic knowledge transfer across the tasks that sequentially arrive. Specifically, DSN primarily seeks to transfer knowledge to the new coming task from the learned tasks by selecting the affiliated weights of a small set of neurons to be activated, including the reused neurons from prior tasks via neuron-wise masks. And it also transfers possibly valuable knowledge to the earlier tasks via data-free replay. Especially, DSN inherently relieves the catastrophic forgetting and the unavailability of past data or possible privacy concerns. The comprehensive experiments conducted on four benchmark datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed DSN in the context of task-incremental learning by comparing it to several state-of-the-art baselines. In particular, DSN enables the knowledge transfer to the earlier tasks, which is often overlooked by prior efforts.