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Overcoming catastrophic forgetting problem by weight consolidation and long-term memory

by   Shixian Wen, et al.
University of Southern California

Sequential learning of multiple tasks in artificial neural networks using gradient descent leads to catastrophic forgetting, whereby previously learned knowledge is erased during learning of new, disjoint knowledge. Here, we propose a new approach to sequential learning which leverages the recent discovery of adversarial examples. We use adversarial subspaces from previous tasks to enable learning of new tasks with less interference. We apply our method to sequentially learning to classify digits 0, 1, 2 (task 1), 4, 5, 6, (task 2), and 7, 8, 9 (task 3) in MNIST (disjoint MNIST task). We compare and combine our Adversarial Direction (AD) method with the recently proposed Elastic Weight Consolidation (EWC) method for sequential learning. We train each task for 20 epochs, which yields good initial performance (99.24 task 1 performance). After training task 2, and then task 3, both plain gradient descent (PGD) and EWC largely forget task 1 (task 1 accuracy 32.95 for PGD and 41.02 achieves 94.53 difficult disjoint CIFAR10 task, which to our knowledge had not been attempted before (70.10 for AD+EWC, while PGD and EWC both fall to chance level). Our results suggest that AD+EWC can provide better sequential learning performance than either PGD or EWC.


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