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Continuous Invariance Learning

LIN Yong · Fan Zhou · Lu Tan · Lintao Ma · Jianmeng Liu · Yansu HE · Yuan Yuan · Yu Liu · James Zhang · Yujiu Yang · Hao Wang

Halle B #219
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Tue 7 May 7:30 a.m. PDT — 9:30 a.m. PDT


Invariance learning methods aim to learn invariant features in the hope that they generalize under distributional shift. Although many tasks are naturally characterized by continuous domains, current invariance learning techniques generally assume categorically indexed domains. For example, auto-scaling in cloud computing often needs a CPU utilization prediction model that generalizes across different times (e.g., time of a day and date of a year), where `time' is a continuous domain index. In this paper, we start by theoretically showing that existing invariance learning methods can fail for continuous domain problems. Specifically, the naive solution of splitting continuous domains into discrete ones ignores the underlying relationship among domains, and therefore potentially leads to suboptimal performance. To address this challenge, we then propose Continuous Invariance Learning (CIL), which extracts invariant features across continuously indexed domains. CIL is a novel adversarial procedure which measures and controls the conditional independence between the labels and continuous domain indices given the extracted features. Our theoretical analysis demonstrates that CIL learns features that satisfy the invariant constraint with infinite samples. Empirical results on both synthetic and real-world datasets (including data collected from production systems) show that CIL consistently outperforms strong baselines among all the tasks.

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