Discriminability-Transferability Trade-Off: An Information-Theoretic Perspective
"This work simultaneously considers the discriminability and transferability properties of deep representations in the typical supervised learning task, i.e., image classification. By a comprehensive temporal analysis, we observe a trade-off between these two properties. The discriminability keeps increasing with the training progressing while the transferability intensely diminishes in the later training period. From the perspective of information-bottleneck theory, we reveal that the incompatibility between discriminability and transferability is attributed to the over-compression of input information. More importantly, we investigate why and how the InfoNCE loss can alleviate the over-compression, and further present a learning framework, named contrastive temporal coding (CTC), to counteract the over-compression and alleviate the incompatibility. Extensive experiments validate that CTC successfully mitigates the incompatibility, yielding discriminative and transferable representations. Noticeable improvements are achieved on the image classification task and challenging transfer learning tasks. We hope that this work will raise the significance of the transferability property in the conventional supervised learning setting."