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In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept

Understanding The Robustness of Self-supervised Learning Through Topic Modeling

Zeping Luo · Shiyou Wu · Cindy Weng · Mo Zhou · Rong Ge

MH1-2-3-4 #143

Keywords: [ Theory ] [ deep learning theory ] [ self-supervised learning ]


Self-supervised learning has significantly improved the performance of many NLP tasks. However, how can self-supervised learning discover useful features, and why is it better than traditional approaches such as probabilistic models are still largely unknown. In this paper, we focus on the context of topic modeling and highlight a key advantage of self-supervised learning - when applied to data generated by topic models, self-supervised learning can be oblivious to the specific model, and hence is less susceptible to model misspecification. In particular, we prove that commonly used self-supervised objectives based on reconstruction or contrastive samples can both recover useful posterior information for general topic models. Empirically, we show that the same objectives can perform on par with posterior inference using the correct model, while outperforming posterior inference using misspecified models.

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