Distributionally Robust Post-hoc Classifiers under Prior Shifts

Jiaheng Wei
Ehsan Amid
Vincent Chu
Yang Liu
Abhishek Kumar
Google Scholar


The generalization ability of machine learning models degrades significantly when the test distribution shifts away from the training distribution. We investigate the problem of training models that are robust to shifts caused by changes in the distribution of class-priors or group-priors. The presence of skewed training priors can often lead to the models overfitting to spurious features. Unlike existing methods, which optimize for either the worst or the average performance over classes or groups, our work is motivated by the need for finer control over the robustness properties of the model. We present a lightweight post-hoc approach that performs scaling adjustments to predictions from a fixed pre-trained model, with the goal of minimizing a distributionally robust loss around a chosen target distribution. These adjustments are computed by solving a constrained optimization problem on a validation set and applied during test time. We propose a novel evaluation metric to test the models on a spectrum of controlled distribution shifts. While being extremely lightweight and fast, our method comes with provable guarantees and compares favorably with the existing more complex methods for this problem on standard class imbalance and group distributional robustness benchmarks.

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