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Workshop: Workshop on Distribution Shifts: New Frontiers with Foundation Models

Discovering environments with XRM

Mohammad Pezeshki · Diane Bouchacourt · Mark Ibrahim · Nicolas Ballas · Pascal Vincent · David Lopez-Paz

Keywords: [ spurious correlations ] [ environment discovery ] [ group distributionally robust optimization ] [ out-of-distribution generalization ]


Successful out-of-distribution generalization requires environment annotations. Unfortunately, these are resource-intensive to obtain, and their relevance to model performance is limited by the expectations and perceptual biases of human annotators. Therefore, to enable robust AI systems across applications, we must develop algorithms to automatically discover environments inducing broad generalization. Current proposals, which divide examples based on their training error, suffer from one fundamental problem. These methods add hyper-parameters and early-stopping criteria that are impossible to tune without a validation set with human-annotated environments, the very information subject to discovery. In this paper, we propose Cross-Risk-Minimization (XRM) to address this issue. XRM trains two twin networks, each learning from one random half of the training data, while imitating confident held-out mistakes made by its sibling. XRM provides a recipe for hyper-parameter tuning, does not require early-stopping, and can discover environments for all training and validation data. Domain generalization algorithms built on top of XRM environments achieve oracle worst-group-accuracy, solving a long-standing problem in out-of-distribution generalization.

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