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  1. A common approach to transfer learning under distribution shift is to fine-tune the last few layers of a pre-trained model, preserving learned features while also adapting to the new task. This paper shows that in such settings, selectively fine-tuning a subset of layers (which we term surgical fine-tuning) matches or outperforms commonly used fine-tuning approaches. Moreover, the type of distribution shift influences which subset is more effective to tune: for example, for image corruptions, fine-tuning only the first few layers works best. We validate our findings systematically across seven real-world data tasks spanning three types of distribution shifts. Theoretically, we prove that for two-layer neural networks in an idealized setting, first-layer tuning can outperform fine-tuning all layers. Intuitively, fine-tuning more parameters on a small target dataset can cause information learned during pre-training to be forgotten, and the relevant information depends on the type of shift. 
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  2. Machine learning systems deployed in the wild are often trained on a source distribution but deployed on a different target distribution. Unlabeled data can be a powerful point of leverage for mitigating these distribution shifts, as it is frequently much more available than labeled data and can often be obtained from distributions beyond the source distribution as well. However, existing distribution shift benchmarks with unlabeled data do not reflect the breadth of scenarios that arise in real-world applications. In this work, we present the WILDS 2.0 update, which extends 8 of the 10 datasets in the WILDS benchmark of distribution shifts to include curated unlabeled data that would be realistically obtainable in deployment. These datasets span a wide range of applications (from histology to wildlife conservation), tasks (classification, regression, and detection), and modalities (photos, satellite images, microscope slides, text, molecular graphs). The update maintains consistency with the original WILDS benchmark by using identical labeled training, validation, and test sets, as well as identical evaluation metrics. We systematically benchmark state-of-the-art methods that use unlabeled data, including domain-invariant, self-training, and self-supervised methods, and show that their success on WILDS is limited. To facilitate method development, we provide an open-source package that automates data loading and contains the model architectures and methods used in this paper. 
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  3. Machine learning systems deployed in the wild are often trained on a source distribution but deployed on a different target distribution. Unlabeled data can be a powerful point of leverage for mitigating these distribution shifts, as it is frequently much more available than labeled data and can often be obtained from distributions beyond the source distribution as well. However, existing distribution shift benchmarks with unlabeled data do not reflect the breadth of scenarios that arise in real-world applications. In this work, we present the WILDS 2.0 update, which extends 8 of the 10 datasets in the WILDS benchmark of distribution shifts to include curated unlabeled data that would be realistically obtainable in deployment. These datasets span a wide range of applications (from histology to wildlife conservation), tasks (classification, regression, and detection), and modalities (photos, satellite images, microscope slides, text, molecular graphs). The update maintains consistency with the original WILDS benchmark by using identical labeled training, validation, and test sets, as well as the evaluation metrics. On these datasets, we systematically benchmark state-of-the-art methods that leverage unlabeled data, including domain-invariant, self-training, and self-supervised methods, and show that their success on WILDS is limited. To facilitate method development and evaluation, we provide an open-source package that automates data loading and contains all of the model architectures and methods used in this paper. Code and leaderboards are available at this https URL. 
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  4. A core capability of intelligent systems is the ability to quickly learn new tasks by drawing on prior experience. Gradient (or optimization) based meta-learning has recently emerged as an effective approach for few-shot learning. In this formulation, meta-parameters are learned in the outer loop, while task-specific models are learned in the inner-loop, by using only a small amount of data from the current task. A key challenge in scaling these approaches is the need to differentiate through the inner loop learning process, which can impose considerable computational and memory burdens. By drawing upon implicit differentiation, we develop the implicit MAML algorithm, which depends only on the solution to the inner level optimization and not the path taken by the inner loop optimizer. This effectively decouples the meta-gradient computation from the choice of inner loop optimizer. As a result, our approach is agnostic to the choice of inner loop optimizer and can gracefully handle many gradient steps without vanishing gradients or memory constraints. Theoretically, we prove that implicit MAML can compute accurate meta-gradients with a memory footprint that is, up to small constant factors, no more than that which is required to compute a single inner loop gradient and at no overall increase in the total computational cost. Experimentally, we show that these benefits of implicit MAML translate into empirical gains on few-shot image recognition benchmarks. 
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  5. null (Ed.)
    Distribution shifts—where the training distribution differs from the test distribution—can substantially degrade the accuracy of machine learning (ML) systems deployed in the wild. Despite their ubiquity in the real-world deployments, these distribution shifts are under-represented in the datasets widely used in the ML community today. To address this gap, we present WILDS, a curated benchmark of 10 datasets reflecting a diverse range of distribution shifts that naturally arise in real-world applications, such as shifts across hospitals for tumor identification; across camera traps for wildlife monitoring; and across time and location in satellite imaging and poverty mapping. On each dataset, we show that standard training yields substantially lower out-of-distribution than in-distribution performance. This gap remains even with models trained by existing methods for tackling distribution shifts, underscoring the need for new methods for training models that are more robust to the types of distribution shifts that arise in practice. To facilitate method development, we provide an open source package that automates dataset loading, contains default model architectures and hyperparameters, and standardizes evaluations. The full paper, code, and leaderboards are available at https://wilds.stanford.edu. 
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