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Few-shot Domain Adaptation by Causal Mechanism Transfer

Takeshi Teshima · Issei Sato · Masashi Sugiyama


Keywords: [ Statistical Learning Theory ] [ Transfer and Multitask Learning ] [ Causality ] [ Transfer, Multitask and Meta-learning ]


We study few-shot supervised domain adaptation (DA) for regression problems, where only a few labeled target domain data and many labeled source domain data are available. Many of the current DA methods base their transfer assumptions on either parametrized distribution shift or apparent distribution similarities, e.g., identical conditionals or small distributional discrepancies. However, these assumptions may preclude the possibility of adaptation from intricately shifted and apparently very different distributions. To overcome this problem, we propose mechanism transfer, a meta-distributional scenario in which a data generating mechanism is invariant among domains. This transfer assumption can accommodate nonparametric shifts resulting in apparently different distributions while providing a solid statistical basis for DA. We take the structural equations in causal modeling as an example and propose a novel DA method, which is shown to be useful both theoretically and experimentally. Our method can be seen as the first attempt to fully leverage the invariance of structural causal models for DA.

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