Understanding Hessian Alignment for Domain Generalization

Sobhan Hemati, Guojun Zhang, Amir Estiri, Xi Chen; Proceedings of the IEEE/CVF International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV), 2023, pp. 19004-19014


Out-of-distribution (OOD) generalization is a critical ability for deep learning models in many real-world scenarios including healthcare and autonomous vehicles. Recently, different techniques have been proposed to improve OOD generalization. Among these methods, gradient-based regularizers have shown promising performance compared with other competitors. Despite this success, our understanding of the role of Hessian and gradient alignment in domain generalization is still limited. To address this shortcoming, we analyze the role of the classifier's head Hessian matrix and gradient in domain generalization using recent OoD theory of transferability. Theoretically, we show that spectral norm between the classifier's head Hessian matrices across domains is an upper bound of the transfer measure, a notion of distance between target and source domains. Furthermore, we analyze all the attributes that get aligned when we encourage similarity between Hessians and gradients. Our analysis explains the success of many regularizers like CORAL, IRM, V-REx, Fish, IGA, and Fishr as they regularize part of the classifier's head Hessian and/or gradient. Finally, we propose two simple yet effective methods to match the classifier's head Hessians and gradients in an efficient way, based on the Hessian Gradient Product (HGP) and Hutchinson's method (Hutchinson), and without directly calculating Hessians. We validate the OOD generalization ability of proposed methods in different scenarios, including transferability, severe correlation shift, label shift and diversity shift. Our results show that Hessian alignment methods achieve promising performance on various OOD benchmarks. Our code is available here.

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@InProceedings{Hemati_2023_ICCV, author = {Hemati, Sobhan and Zhang, Guojun and Estiri, Amir and Chen, Xi}, title = {Understanding Hessian Alignment for Domain Generalization}, booktitle = {Proceedings of the IEEE/CVF International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV)}, month = {October}, year = {2023}, pages = {19004-19014} }