Continual Learning with Node-Importance based Adaptive Group Sparse Regularization

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 (NeurIPS 2020)

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Sangwon Jung, Hongjoon Ahn, Sungmin Cha, Taesup Moon


We propose a novel regularization-based continual learning method, dubbed as Adaptive Group Sparsity based Continual Learning (AGS-CL), using two group sparsity-based penalties. Our method selectively employs the two penalties when learning each neural network node based on its the importance, which is adaptively updated after learning each task. By utilizing the proximal gradient descent method, the exact sparsity and freezing of the model is guaranteed during the learning process, and thus, the learner explicitly controls the model capacity. Furthermore, as a critical detail, we re-initialize the weights associated with unimportant nodes after learning each task in order to facilitate efficient learning and prevent the negative transfer. Throughout the extensive experimental results, we show that our AGS-CL uses orders of magnitude less memory space for storing the regularization parameters, and it significantly outperforms several state-of-the-art baselines on representative benchmarks for both supervised and reinforcement learning.