Efficient and Effective Multi-task Grouping via Meta Learning on Task Combinations

Xiaozhuang Song, Shun Zheng, Wei Cao, James J.Q. Yu*, Jiang Bian*
Proc. Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, New Orleans, LA, US, Nov. 2022

As a longstanding learning paradigm, multi-task learning has been widely applied into a variety of machine learning applications. Nonetheless, identifying which tasks should be learned together is still a challenging fundamental problem because the possible task combinations grow exponentially with the number of tasks, and existing solutions heavily relying on heuristics may probably lead to ineffective groupings with severe performance degradation. To bridge this gap, we develop a systematic multi-task grouping framework with a new meta-learning problem on task combinations, which is to predict the per-task performance gains of multi-task learning over single-task learning for any combination. Our underlying assumption is that no matter how large the space of task combinations is, the relationships between task combinations and performance gains lie in some low-dimensional manifolds and thus can be learnable. Accordingly, we develop a neural meta learner, MTG-Net, to capture these relationships, and design an active learning strategy to progressively select meta-training samples. In this way, even with limited meta samples, MTG-Net holds the potential to produce reasonable gain estimations on arbitrary task combinations. Extensive experiments on diversified multi-task scenarios demonstrate the efficiency and the effectiveness of our method. Specifically, in a large-scale evaluation with tasks, which produce over one hundred million task combinations, our method almost doubles the performance obtained by the existing best solution given roughly the same computational cost. Data and code are available at https://anonymous.4open.science/r/MTG-Net-DB77.

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