Conditional Contrastive Learning: Removing Undesirable Information in Self-Supervised Representations

Yao-Hung Hubert Tsai, Martin Q. Ma, Han Zhao, Kun Zhang, Louis-Philippe Morency, Ruslan Salakhutdinov

Self-supervised learning is a form of unsupervised learning that leverages rich information in data to learn representations. However, data sometimes contains certain information that may be undesirable for downstream tasks. For instance, gender information may lead to biased decisions on many gender-irrelevant tasks. In this paper, we develop conditional contrastive learning to remove undesirable information in self-supervised representations. To remove the effect of the undesirable variable, our proposed approach conditions on the undesirable variable (i.e., by fixing the variations of it) during the contrastive learning process. In particular, inspired by the contrastive objective InfoNCE, we introduce Conditional InfoNCE (C-InfoNCE), and its computationally efficient variant, Weak-Conditional InfoNCE (WeaC-InfoNCE), for conditional contrastive learning. We demonstrate empirically that our methods can successfully learn self-supervised representations for downstream tasks while removing a great level of information related to the undesirable variables. We study three scenarios, each with a different type of undesirable variables: task-irrelevant meta-information for self-supervised speech representation learning, sensitive attributes for fair representation learning, and domain specification for multi-domain visual representation learning.

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