Backward Compatibility During Data Updates by Weight Interpolation


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Backward compatibility of model predictions is a desired property when updating a machine learning driven application. It allows to seamlessly improve the underlying model without introducing regression bugs. In classification tasks these bugs occur in the form of negative flips. This means an instance that was correctly classified by the old model is now classified incorrectly by the updated model. This has direct negative impact on the user experience of such systems e.g. a frequently used voice assistant query is suddenly misclassified. A common reason to update the model is when new training data becomes available and needs to be incorporated. Simply retraining the model with the updated data introduces the unwanted negative flips. We study the problem of regression during data updates and propose Backward Compatible Weight Interpolation (BCWI). This method interpolates between the weights of the old and new model and we show in extensive experiments that it reduces negative flips without sacrificing the improved accuracy of the new model. BCWI is straight forward to implement and does not increase inference cost. We also explore the use of importance weighting during interpolation and averaging the weights of multiple new models in order to further reduce negative flips.
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