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Correct-N-Contrast: A Contrastive Approach for Improving Robustness to Spurious Correlations
Michael Zhang · Nimit Sohoni · Hongyang Zhang · Chelsea Finn · Christopher Ré
Event URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=Q41kl_DwS3Y »
We propose Correct-N-Contrast (CNC), a contrastive learning method to improve robustness to spurious correlations when training group labels are unknown. Our motivating observation is that worst-group performance is related to a representation alignment loss, which measures the distance in feature space between different groups within each class. We prove that the gap between worst-group and average loss for each class is upper bounded by this alignment loss for that class. Thus, CNC aims to improve representation alignment via contrastive learning. First, CNC uses an ERM model to infer the group information. Second, with a careful sampling scheme, CNC trains a contrastive model to encourage similar representations for groups in the same class. We show that CNC significantly improves worst-group accuracy over existing state-of-the-art methods on popular benchmarks, e.g., achieving $7.7\%$ absolute lift in worst-group accuracy on the CelebA dataset, and performs almost as well as methods trained with group labels. CNC also learns better-aligned representations between different groups in each class, reducing the alignment loss substantially compared to prior methods.

Author Information

Michael Zhang (Stanford University)
Nimit Sohoni (Stanford University)
Hongyang Zhang (Northeastern University)
Chelsea Finn (Stanford)
Christopher Ré (Stanford)
Christopher Ré

Christopher (Chris) Re is an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at Stanford University. He is in the Stanford AI Lab and is affiliated with the Machine Learning Group and the Center for Research on Foundation Models. His recent work is to understand how software and hardware systems will change because of machine learning along with a continuing, petulant drive to work on math problems. Research from his group has been incorporated into scientific and humanitarian efforts, such as the fight against human trafficking, along with products from technology and companies including Apple, Google, YouTube, and more. He has also cofounded companies, including Snorkel, SambaNova, and Together, and a venture firm, called Factory. His family still brags that he received the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, but his closest friends are confident that it was a mistake. His research contributions have spanned database theory, database systems, and machine learning, and his work has won best paper at a premier venue in each area, respectively, at PODS 2012, SIGMOD 2014, and ICML 2016. Due to great collaborators, he received the NeurIPS 2020 test-of-time award and the PODS 2022 test-of-time award. Due to great students, he received best paper at MIDL 2022, best paper runner up at ICLR22 and ICML22, and best student-paper runner up at UAI22.

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