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Hierarchical Gaussian Mixture based Task Generative Model for Robust Meta-Learning

Meta-learning enables quick adaptation of machine learning models to new tasks with limited data. While tasks could come from varying distributions in reality, most of the existing meta-learning methods consider both training and testing tasks as from the same uni-component distribution, overlooking two critical needs of a practical solution: (1) the various sources of tasks may compose a multi-component mixture distribution, and (2) novel tasks may come from a distribution that is unseen during meta-training. In this paper, we demonstrate these two challenges can be solved jointly by modeling the density of task instances. We develop a meta training framework underlain by a novel Hierarchical Gaussian Mixture based Task Generative Model (HTGM). HTGM extends the widely used empirical process of sampling tasks to a theoretical model, which learns task embeddings, fits the mixture distribution of tasks, and enables density-based scoring of novel tasks. The framework is agnostic to the encoder and scales well with large backbone networks. The model parameters are learned end-to-end by maximum likelihood estimation via an Expectation-Maximization (EM) algorithm. Extensive experiments on benchmark datasets indicate the effectiveness of our method for both sample classification and novel task detection.