Side-Tuning: A Baseline for Network Adaptation via Additive Side Networks

Jeffrey O. Zhang, Alexander Sax, Amir Zamir, Leonidas Guibas, Jitendra Malik ;


When training a neural network for a desired task, one may prefer to adapt a pre-trained network rather than starting from randomly initialized weights. Adaptation can be useful in cases when training data is scarce, when a single learner needs to perform multiple tasks, or when one wishes to encode priors in the network. The most commonly employed approaches for network adaptation are fine-tuning and using the pre-trained network as a fixed feature extractor, among others.
In this paper, we propose a straightforward alternative: side-tuning. Side-tuning adapts a pre-trained network by training a lightweight ""side"" network that is fused with the (unchanged) pre-trained network via summation. This simple method works as well as or better than existing solutions and it resolves some of the basic issues with fine-tuning, fixed features, and other common approaches. In particular, side-tuning is less prone to overfitting, is asymptotically consistent, and does not suffer from catastrophic forgetting in incremental learning. We demonstrate the performance of side-tuning under a diverse set of scenarios, including incremental learning (iCIFAR, iTaskonomy), reinforcement learning, imitation learning (visual navigation in Habitat), NLP question-answering (SQuAD v2), and single-task transfer learning (Taskonomy), with consistently promising results."

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