Consistency-based Semi-supervised Active Learning: Towards Minimizing Labeling Cost
Active learning (AL) combines data labeling and model training to minimize the labeling cost by prioritizing the selection of high value data that can best improve model performance. In pool-based active learning, accessible unlabeled data are not used for model training in most conventional methods. Here, we propose to unify unlabeled sample selection and model training towards minimizing labeling cost, and make two contributions towards that end. First, we exploit both labeled and unlabeled data using semi-supervised learning (SSL) to distill information from unlabeled data during the training stage. Second, we propose a consistency-based sample selection metric that is coherent with the training objective such that the selected samples are effective at improving model performance. We conduct extensive experiments on image classification tasks. The experimental results on CIFAR-10, CIFAR-100 and ImageNet demonstrate the superior performance of our proposed method with limited labeled data, compared to the existing methods and the alternative AL and SSL combinations. Additionally, we also study an important yet under-explored problem -- ``When can we start learning-based AL selection?"". We propose a measure that is empirically correlated with the AL target loss and is potentially useful for determining the proper starting point of learning-based AL methods."