Google Research

Boosting Contrastive Self-Supervised Learning with False Negative Cancellation

arxiv (2021)


Self-supervised representation learning has witnessed significant leaps fueled by recent progress in Contrastive learning, which seeks to learn transformations that embed positive input pairs nearby, while pushing negative pairs far apart. While positive pairs can be generated reliably (e.g., as different views of the same image), it is difficult to accurately establish negative pairs, defined as samples from different images regardless of their semantic content or visual features. A fundamental problem in contrastive learning is mitigating the effects of false negatives. Contrasting false negatives induces two critical issues in representation learning: discarding semantic information and slow convergence. In this paper, we study this problem in detail and propose novel approaches to mitigate the effects of false negatives. The proposed methods exhibit consistent and significant improvements over existing contrastive learning-based models. They achieve new state-of-the-art performance on ImageNet evaluations, achieving 5.8% absolute improvement in top-1 accuracy over the previous state-of-the-art when finetuning with 1% labels, as well as transferring to downstream tasks.

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