Skip to yearly menu bar Skip to main content

In-Person Oral presentation / top 5% paper

Towards Stable Test-time Adaptation in Dynamic Wild World

Shuaicheng Niu · Jiaxiang Wu · Yifan Zhang · Zhiquan Wen · Yaofo Chen · Peilin Zhao · Mingkui Tan



Test-time adaptation (TTA) has shown to be effective at tackling distribution shifts between training and testing data by adapting a given model on test samples. However, the online model updating of TTA may be unstable and this is often a key obstacle preventing existing TTA methods from being deployed in the real world. Specifically, TTA may fail to improve or even harm the model performance when test data have: 1) mixed distribution shifts, 2) small batch sizes, and 3) online imbalanced label distribution shifts, which are quite common in practice. In this paper, we investigate the unstable reasons and find that the batch norm layer is a crucial factor hindering TTA stability. Conversely, TTA can perform more stably with batch-agnostic norm layers, i.e., group or layer norm. However, we observe that TTA with group and layer norms does not always succeed and still suffers many failure cases. By digging into the failure cases, we find that certain noisy test samples with large gradients may disturb the model adaption and result in collapsed trivial solutions, i.e., assigning the same class label for all samples. To address the above collapse issue, we propose a sharpness-aware and reliable entropy minimization method, called SAR, for further stabilizing TTA from two aspects: 1) remove partial noisy samples with large gradients, 2) encourage model weights to go to a flat minimum so that the model is robust to the remaining noisy samples. Promising results demonstrate that SAR performs more stably than prior methods and is computationally efficient under the above wild test scenarios.

Chat is not available.