Loss Function Learning for Domain Generalization by Implicit Gradient

Boyan Gao · Henry Gouk · Yongxin Yang · Timothy Hospedales

Ballroom 1 & 2
[ Abstract ] [ Livestream: Visit Deep Learning ]
Wed 20 Jul 2:25 p.m. — 2:30 p.m. PDT
[ Slides [ Paper PDF

Generalising robustly to distribution shift is a major challenge that is pervasive across most real-world applications of machine learning. A recent study highlighted that many advanced algorithms proposed to tackle such domain generalisation (DG) fail to outperform a properly tuned empirical risk minimisation (ERM) baseline. We take a different approach, and explore the impact of the ERM loss function on out-of-domain generalisation. In particular, we introduce a novel meta-learning approach to loss function search based on implicit gradient. This enables us to discover a general purpose parametric loss function that provides a drop-in replacement for cross-entropy. Our loss can be used in standard training pipelines to efficiently train robust models using any neural architecture on new datasets. The results show that it clearly surpasses cross-entropy, enables simple ERM to outperform some more complicated prior DG methods, and provides state-of-the-art performance across a variety of DG benchmarks. Furthermore, unlike most existing DG approaches, our setup applies to the most practical setting of single-source domain generalisation, on which we show significant improvement.

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