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Improving Transformation Invariance in Contrastive Representation Learning

Adam Foster · Rattana Pukdee · Tom Rainforth

Keywords: [ transformation invariance ] [ contrastive learning ] [ representation learning ]


We propose methods to strengthen the invariance properties of representations obtained by contrastive learning. While existing approaches implicitly induce a degree of invariance as representations are learned, we look to more directly enforce invariance in the encoding process. To this end, we first introduce a training objective for contrastive learning that uses a novel regularizer to control how the representation changes under transformation. We show that representations trained with this objective perform better on downstream tasks and are more robust to the introduction of nuisance transformations at test time. Second, we propose a change to how test time representations are generated by introducing a feature averaging approach that combines encodings from multiple transformations of the original input, finding that this leads to across the board performance gains. Finally, we introduce the novel Spirograph dataset to explore our ideas in the context of a differentiable generative process with multiple downstream tasks, showing that our techniques for learning invariance are highly beneficial.

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