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A simple but strong baseline for online continual learning: Repeated Augmented Rehearsal

Yaqian Zhang · Bernhard Pfahringer · Eibe Frank · Albert Bifet · Nick Jin Sean Lim · Yunzhe Jia

Hall J (level 1) #708

Keywords: [ online continual learning ] [ forggetting ] [ continual learning ] [ Online Learning ] [ experience replay ]


Online continual learning (OCL) aims to train neural networks incrementally from a non-stationary data stream with a single pass through data. Rehearsal-based methods attempt to approximate the observed input distributions over time with a small memory and revisit them later to avoid forgetting. Despite their strong empirical performance, rehearsal methods still suffer from a poor approximation of past data’s loss landscape with memory samples. This paper revisits the rehearsal dynamics in online settings. We provide theoretical insights on the inherent memory overfitting risk from the viewpoint of biased and dynamic empirical risk minimization, and examine the merits and limits of repeated rehearsal.Inspired by our analysis, a simple and intuitive baseline, repeated augmented rehearsal (RAR), is designed to address the underfitting-overfitting dilemma of online rehearsal. Surprisingly, across four rather different OCL benchmarks,this simple baseline outperforms vanilla rehearsal by 9\%-17\% and also significantly improves the state-of-the-art rehearsal-based methods MIR, ASER, and SCR. We also demonstrate that RAR successfully achieves an accurate approximation of the loss landscape of past data and high-loss ridge aversion in its learning trajectory. Extensive ablation studies are conducted to study the interplay between repeated and augmented rehearsal, and reinforcement learning (RL) is applied to dynamically adjust the hyperparameters of RAR to balance the stability-plasticity trade-off online.

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