On the benefits of representation regularization in invariance based domain generalization

Changjian Shui (Université Laval)*; Boyu Wang (University of Western Ontario); Christian Gagné (Université Laval)


A crucial aspect in reliable machine learning is to design a deployable system in generalizing new related but unobserved environments. Domain generalization aims to alleviate such a prediction gap between the observed and unseen environments. Previous approaches commonly incorporated learning invariant representation for achieving good empirical performance. In this paper, we reveal that merely learning invariant representation is vulnerable to the unseen environment. To this end, we derive novel theoretical analysis to control the unseen test environment error in the representation learning, which highlights the importance of controlling the smoothness of representation. In practice, our analysis further inspires an efficient regularization method to improve the robustness in domain generalization. Our regularization is orthogonal to and can be straightforwardly adopted in existing domain generalization algorithms for invariant representation learning. Empirical results show that our algorithm outperforms the base versions in various datasets and invariance criteria.