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Robust Similarity Learning with Difference Alignment Regularization

Shuo Chen · Gang Niu · Chen Gong · Okan Koc · Jian Yang · Masashi Sugiyama

Halle B #147
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Wed 8 May 1:45 a.m. PDT — 3:45 a.m. PDT


Similarity-based representation learning has shown impressive capabilities in both supervised (e.g., metric learning) and unsupervised (e.g., contrastive learning) scenarios. Existing approaches effectively constrained the representation difference (i.e., the disagreement between the embeddings of two instances) to fit the corresponding (pseudo) similarity supervision. However, most of them can hardly restrict the variation of representation difference, sometimes leading to overfitting results where the clusters are disordered by drastically changed differences. In this paper, we thus propose a novel difference alignment regularization (DAR) to encourage all representation differences between inter-class instances to be as close as possible, so that the learning algorithm can produce consistent differences to distinguish data points from each other. To this end, we construct a new cross-total-variation (CTV) norm to measure the divergence among representation differences, and we convert it into an equivalent stochastic form for easy optimization. Then, we integrate the proposed regularizer into the empirical loss for difference-aligned similarity learning (DASL), shrinking the hypothesis space and alleviating overfitting. Theoretically, we prove that our regularizer tightens the error bound of the traditional similarity learning. Experiments on multi-domain data demonstrate the superiority of DASL over existing approaches in both supervised metric learning and unsupervised contrastive learning tasks.

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