On the Connection between Invariant Learning and Adversarial Training for Out-of-Distribution Generalization


Despite impressive success in many tasks, deep learning models are shown to rely on spurious features, which will catastrophically fail when generalized to out-of-distribution (OOD) data. Invariant Risk Minimization (IRM) is proposed to alleviate this issue by extracting domain-invariant features for OOD generalization. Nevertheless, recent work shows that IRM is only effective for a certain type of distribution shift (e.g., correlation shift) while it fails for other cases (e.g., diversity shift). Meanwhile, another thread of method, Adversarial Training (AT), has shown better domain transfer performance, suggesting that it has the potential to be an effective candidate for extracting domain-invariant features. This paper investigates this possibility by exploring the similarity between the IRM and AT objectives. Inspired by this connection, we propose Domainwise Adversarial Training (DAT), an AT-inspired method for alleviating distribution shift by domain-specific perturbations. Extensive experiments show that our proposed DAT can effectively remove domain-varying features and improve OOD generalization under both correlation shift and diversity shift.

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