Online Fast Adaptation and Knowledge Accumulation: a New Approach to Continual Learning

03/12/2020 ∙ by Massimo Caccia, et al. ∙ 26

Learning from non-stationary data remains a great challenge for machine learning. Continual learning addresses this problem in scenarios where the learning agent faces a stream of changing tasks. In these scenarios, the agent is expected to retain its highest performance on previous tasks without revisiting them while adapting well to the new tasks. Two new recent continual-learning scenarios have been proposed. In meta-continual learning, the model is pre-trained to minimize catastrophic forgetting when trained on a sequence of tasks. In continual-meta learning, the goal is faster remembering, i.e., focusing on how quickly the agent recovers performance rather than measuring the agent's performance without any adaptation. Both scenarios have the potential to propel the field forward. Yet in their original formulations, they each have limitations. As a remedy, we propose a more general scenario where an agent must quickly solve (new) out-of-distribution tasks, while also requiring fast remembering. We show that current continual learning, meta learning, meta-continual learning, and continual-meta learning techniques fail in this new scenario. Accordingly, we propose a strong baseline: Continual-MAML, an online extension of the popular MAML algorithm. In our empirical experiments, we show that our method is better suited to the new scenario than the methodologies mentioned above, as well as standard continual learning and meta learning approaches.

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