Zero-data Learning of New Tasks

Hugo Larochelle, Dumitru Erhan, Yoshua Bengio

We introduce the problem of zero-data learning, where a model must generalize to classes or tasks for which no training data are available and only a description of the classes or tasks are provided. Zero-data learning is useful for problems where the set of classes to distinguish or tasks to solve is very large and is not entirely covered by the training data. The main contributions of this work lie in the presentation of a general formalization of zero-data learning, in an experimental analysis of its properties and in empirical evidence showing that generalization is possible and significant in this context. The experimental work of this paper addresses two classification problems of character recognition and a multi-task ranking problem in the context of drug discovery. Finally, we conclude by discussing how this new framework could lead to a novel perspective on how to extend machine learning towards AI, where an agent can be given a specification for a learning problem before attempting to solve it (with very few or even zero examples).

Subjects: 14. Neural Networks; 12. Machine Learning and Discovery

Submitted: Apr 7, 2008

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