Google Research

Compressive Visual Representations

Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems (2021) (to appear)

Abstract

Learning effective visual representations that generalize well without human supervision is a fundamental problem in order to apply Machine Learning to a wide variety of tasks. Recently, two families of self-supervised methods, contrastive learning and latent bootstrapping, exemplified by SimCLR and BYOL respectively, have made significant progress. In this work, we hypothesize that adding explicit information compression to these algorithms yields better and more robust representations. We verify this by developing SimCLR and BYOL formulations compatible with the Conditional Entropy Bottleneck (CEB) objective, allowing us to both measure and control the amount of compression in the learned representation, and observe their impact on downstream tasks. Furthermore, we explore the relationship between Lipschitz continuity and compression, showing a tractable lower bound on the Lipschitz constant of the encoders we learn. As Lipschitz continuity is closely related to robustness, this provides a new explanation for why compressed models are more robust. Our experiments confirm that adding compression to SimCLR and BYOL significantly improves linear evaluation accuracies and model robustness across a wide range of domain shifts. In particular, the compressed version of BYOL achieves 76.0% Top-1 linear evaluation accuracy on ImageNet with ResNet-50, and 78.8% with ResNet-50 2x.

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