How to distribute data across tasks for meta-learning?

Alexandru Cioba, Michael Bromberg, Qian Wang, Ritwik Niyogi, Georgios Batzolis, Da-Shan Shiu, Alberto Bernacchia

Meta-learning models transfer the knowledge acquired from previous tasks to quickly learn new ones. They are tested on benchmarks with a fixed number of data points per training task. This number is usually arbitrary and it is unknown how it affects the performance. Since labelling of data is expensive, finding the optimal allocation of labels across training tasks may reduce costs: given a fixed budget of labels, should we use a small number of highly labelled tasks, or many tasks with few labels each? We show that: 1) The optimal number of data points per task depends on the budget, but it converges to a unique constant value for large budgets; 2) Convergence occurs around the interpolation threshold of the model. We prove our results mathematically on mixed linear regression, and we show empirically that the same results hold for nonlinear regression and few-shot image classification on CIFAR-FS and mini-ImageNet. Our results suggest a simple and efficient procedure for data collection: the optimal allocation of data can be computed at low cost, by using relatively small data, and collection of additional data can be optimized by the knowledge of the optimal allocation.

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