Channel Importance Matters in Few-Shot Image Classification
Proceedings of the 39th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 162:14542-14559, 2022.
Few-Shot Learning (FSL) requires vision models to quickly adapt to brand-new classification tasks with a shift in task distribution. Understanding the difficulties posed by this task distribution shift is central to FSL. In this paper, we show that a simple channel-wise feature transformation may be the key to unraveling this secret from a channel perspective. When facing novel few-shot tasks in the test-time datasets, this transformation can greatly improve the generalization ability of learned image representations, while being agnostic to the choice of datasets and training algorithms. Through an in-depth analysis of this transformation, we find that the difficulty of representation transfer in FSL stems from the severe channel bias problem of image representations: channels may have different importance in different tasks, while convolutional neural networks are likely to be insensitive, or respond incorrectly to such a shift. This points out a core problem of the generalization ability of modern vision systems which needs further attention in the future.