Just Train Twice: Improving Group Robustness without Training Group Information
Proceedings of the 38th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 139:6781-6792, 2021.
Standard training via empirical risk minimization (ERM) can produce models that achieve low error on average but high error on minority groups, especially in the presence of spurious correlations between the input and label. Prior approaches to this problem, like group distributionally robust optimization (group DRO), generally require group annotations for every training point. On the other hand, approaches that do not use group annotations generally do not improve minority performance. For example, we find that joint DRO, which dynamically upweights examples with high training loss, tends to optimize for examples that are irrelevant to the specific groups we seek to do well on. In this paper, we propose a simple two-stage approach, JTT, that achieves comparable performance to group DRO while only requiring group annotations on a significantly smaller validation set. JTT first attempts to identify informative training examples, which are often minority examples, by training an initial ERM classifier and selecting the examples with high training loss. Then, it trains a final classifier by upsampling the selected examples. Crucially, unlike joint DRO, JTT does not iteratively upsample examples that have high loss under the final classifier. On four image classification and natural language processing tasks with spurious correlations, we show that JTT closes 85% of the gap in accuracy on the worst group between ERM and group DRO.