Loss-Balanced Task Weighting to Reduce Negative Transfer in Multi-Task Learning

  • Shengchao Liu University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Yingyu Liang University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Anthony Gitter University of Wisconsin-Madison


In settings with related prediction tasks, integrated multi-task learning models can often improve performance relative to independent single-task models. However, even when the average task performance improves, individual tasks may experience negative transfer in which the multi-task model’s predictions are worse than the single-task model’s. We show the prevalence of negative transfer in a computational chemistry case study with 128 tasks and introduce a framework that provides a foundation for reducing negative transfer in multitask models. Our Loss-Balanced Task Weighting approach dynamically updates task weights during model training to control the influence of individual tasks.

Student Abstract Track