TaskNorm: Rethinking Batch Normalization for Meta-Learning

John Bronskill · Jonathan Gordon · James Requeima · Sebastian Nowozin · Richard E Turner

Keywords: [ Algorithms ] [ Meta-learning and Automated ML ] [ Transfer, Multitask and Meta-learning ]

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Modern meta-learning approaches for image classification rely on increasingly deep networks to achieve state-of-the-art performance, making batch normalization an essential component of meta-learning pipelines. However, the hierarchical nature of the meta-learning setting presents several challenges that can render conventional batch normalization ineffective, giving rise to the need to rethink normalization in this setting. We evaluate a range of approaches to batch normalization for meta-learning scenarios, and develop a novel approach that we call TaskNorm. Experiments on fourteen datasets demonstrate that the choice of batch normalization has a dramatic effect on both classification accuracy and training time for both gradient based- and gradient-free meta-learning approaches. Importantly, TaskNorm is found to consistently improve performance. Finally, we provide a set of best practices for normalization that will allow fair comparison of meta-learning algorithms.

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