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Pushing the Limits of Simple Pipelines for Few-Shot Learning: External Data and Fine-Tuning Make a Difference
Few-shot learning (FSL) is an important and topical problem in computer vision that has motivated extensive research into numerous methods spanning from sophisticated meta-learning methods to simple transfer learning baselines. We seek to push the limits of a simple-but-effective pipeline for real-world few-shot image classification in practice. To this end, we explore few-shot learning from the perspective of neural architecture, as well as a three stage pipeline of pre-training on external data, meta-training with labelled few-shot tasks, and task-specific fine-tuning on unseen tasks. We investigate questions such as: (1) How pre-training on external data benefits FSL? (2) How state of the art transformer architectures can be exploited? and (3) How to best exploit fine-tuning? Ultimately, we show that a simple transformer-based pipeline yields surprisingly good performance on standard benchmarks such as Mini-ImageNet, CIFAR-FS, CDFSL and Meta-Dataset. Our code is available at https://hushell.github.io/pmf.