Episodic Training for Domain Generalization

Da Li, Jianshu Zhang, Yongxin Yang, Cong Liu, Yi-Zhe Song, Timothy M. Hospedales

Domain generalization (DG) is the challenging and topical problem of learning models that generalize to novel testing domains with different statistics than a set of known training domains. The simple approach of aggregating data from all source domains and training a single deep neural network end-to-end on all the data provides a surprisingly strong baseline that surpasses many prior published methods. In this paper, we build on this strong baseline by designing an episodic training procedure that trains a single deep network in a way that exposes it to the domain shift that characterises a novel domain at runtime. Specifically, we decompose a deep network into feature extractor and classifier components, and then train each component by simulating it interacting with a partner who is badly tuned for the current domain. This makes both components more robust, ultimately leading to our networks producing state-of-the-art performance on three DG benchmarks. Furthermore, we consider the pervasive workflow of using an ImageNet trained CNN as a fixed feature extractor for downstream recognition tasks. Using the Visual Decathlon benchmark, we demonstrate that our episodic-DG training improves the performance of such a general-purpose feature extractor by explicitly training a feature for robustness to novel problems. This shows that DG training can benefit standard practice in computer vision.

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