Continual Pre-Training Mitigates Forgetting in Language and Vision

Pre-trained models are nowadays a fundamental component of machine learning research. In continual learning, they are commonly used to initialize the model before training on the stream of non-stationary data. However, pre-training is rarely applied during continual learning. We formalize and investigate the characteristics of the continual pre-training scenario in both language and vision environments, where a model is continually pre-trained on a stream of incoming data and only later fine-tuned to different downstream tasks. We show that continually pre-trained models are robust against catastrophic forgetting and we provide strong empirical evidence supporting the fact that self-supervised pre-training is more effective in retaining previous knowledge than supervised protocols. Code is provided at .

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