Forget-free Continual Learning with Soft-Winning SubNetworks

Inspired by Regularized Lottery Ticket Hypothesis (RLTH), which states that competitive smooth (non-binary) subnetworks exist within a dense network in continual learning tasks, we investigate two proposed architecture-based continual learning methods which sequentially learn and select adaptive binary- (WSN) and non-binary Soft-Subnetworks (SoftNet) for each task. WSN and SoftNet jointly learn the regularized model weights and task-adaptive non-binary masks of subnetworks associated with each task whilst attempting to select a small set of weights to be activated (winning ticket) by reusing weights of the prior subnetworks. Our proposed WSN and SoftNet are inherently immune to catastrophic forgetting as each selected subnetwork model does not infringe upon other subnetworks in Task Incremental Learning (TIL). In TIL, binary masks spawned per winning ticket are encoded into one N-bit binary digit mask, then compressed using Huffman coding for a sub-linear increase in network capacity to the number of tasks. Surprisingly, in the inference step, SoftNet generated by injecting small noises to the backgrounds of acquired WSN (holding the foregrounds of WSN) provides excellent forward transfer power for future tasks in TIL. SoftNet shows its effectiveness over WSN in regularizing parameters to tackle the overfitting, to a few examples in Few-shot Class Incremental Learning (FSCIL).

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