Invariant Feature Learning for Generalized Long-Tailed Classification

Kaihua Tang, Mingyuan Tao, Jiaxin Qi, Zhenguang Liu, Hanwang Zhang ;


"Existing long-tailed classification (LT) methods only focus on tackling the class-wise imbalance that head classes have more samples than tail classes, but overlook the attribute-wise imbalance. In fact, even if the class is balanced, samples within each class may still be long-tailed due to the varying attributes. Note that the latter is fundamentally more ubiquitous and challenging than the former because attributes are not just implicit for most datasets, but also combinatorially complex, thus prohibitively expensive to be balanced. Therefore, we introduce a novel research problem: Generalized Long-Tailed classification (GLT), to jointly consider both kinds of imbalances. By “generalized”, we mean that a GLT method should naturally solve the traditional LT, but not vice versa. Not surprisingly, we find that most class-wise LT methods degenerate in our proposed two benchmarks: ImageNet-GLT and MSCOCO-GLT. We argue that it is because they over-emphasize the adjustment of class distribution while neglecting to learn attribute-invariant features. To this end, we propose an Invariant Feature Learning (IFL) method as the first strong baseline for GLT. IFL first discovers environments with divergent intra-class distributions from the imperfect predictions, and then learns invariant features across them. Promisingly, as an improved feature backbone, IFL boosts all the LT line-up: one/two-stage re-balance, augmentation, and ensemble. Codes and benchmarks are available on Github:"

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