Supercharging Imbalanced Data Learning With Energy-based Contrastive Representation Transfer

Zidi Xiu, Junya Chen, Ricardo Henao, Benjamin Goldstein, Lawrence Carin, Chenyang Tao

Dealing with severe class imbalance poses a major challenge for real-world applications, especially when the accurate classification and generalization of minority classes is of primary interest. In computer vision, learning from long tailed datasets is a recurring theme, especially for natural image datasets. While existing solutions mostly appeal to sampling or weighting adjustments to alleviate the pathological imbalance, or imposing inductive bias to prioritize non-spurious associations, we take novel perspectives to promote sample efficiency and model generalization based on the invariance principles of causality. Our proposal posits a meta-distributional scenario, where the data generating mechanism is invariant across the label-conditional feature distributions. Such causal assumption enables efficient knowledge transfer from the dominant classes to their under-represented counterparts, even if the respective feature distributions show apparent disparities. This allows us to leverage a causal data inflation procedure to enlarge the representation of minority classes. Our development is orthogonal to the existing extreme classification techniques thus can be seamlessly integrated. The utility of our proposal is validated with an extensive set of synthetic and real-world computer vision tasks against SOTA solutions.

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