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DASO: Distribution-Aware Semantics-Oriented Pseudo-label for Imbalanced Semi-Supervised Learning

DASO: Distribution-Aware Semantics-Oriented Pseudo-label for Imbalanced Semi-Supervised Learning

1KAIST, South Korea. 2UC Berkeley / ICSI, CA.
IEEE/CVF Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR 2022)

DASO framework for debiasing pseudo-labels by blending two complementary pseudo-labels. Semantic alignment loss further alleviates the bias with balanced feature representations.


The capability of the traditional semi-supervised learning (SSL) methods is far from real-world application due to severely biased pseudo-labels caused by (1) class imbalance and (2) class distribution mismatch between labeled and unlabeled data.

This paper addresses such a relatively under-explored problem. First, we propose a general pseudo-labeling framework that class-adaptively blends the semantic pseudo-label from a similarity-based classifier to the linear one from the linear classifier, after making the observation that both types of pseudo-labels have complementary properties in terms of bias. We further introduce a novel semantic alignment loss to establish balanced feature representation to reduce the biased predictions from the classifier. We term the whole framework as Distribution-Aware Semantics-Oriented (DASO) Pseudo-label.

We conduct extensive experiments in a wide range of imbalanced benchmarks: CIFAR10/100-LT, STL10-LT, and large-scale long-tailed Semi-Aves with open-set class, and demonstrate that, the proposed DASO framework reliably improves SSL learners with unlabeled data especially when both (1) class imbalance and (2) distribution mismatch dominate.


Many real-world datasets exhibit long-tailed distributions. With such class imbalanced data, semi-supervised learning (SSL) methods produce biased pseudo-labels, which can further bias the model during training. The bias of pseudo-labels also depends on class distribution mismatch between labeled and unlabeled data, in addition to the class-imbalance.

DASO reduces overall bias in pseudo-labels caused by imbalanced data, by blending two complementary pseudo-labels from different classifiers. We conceptually illustrate the bias as relative pseudo-label size, meaning that pseudo-label size is normalized by the actual label size.

We present a new imbalanced SSL method for debiasing pseudo-labels under class-imbalanced data, while discarding the common assumption that class distributions of labeled data and unlabeled data are identical.


We observe that semantic pseudo-labels from a similarity-based classifier are biased towards minority classes as opposed to linear classifier-based pseudo-labels being biased towards head classes.

FixMatch and USADTM are recent methods that learn solely from linear pseudo-labels and semantic pseudo-labels, respectively.

Although USADTM improves the recall of minority classes in (a), the precision of those classes is significantly reduced compared to FixMatch in (b). DASO improves the recall of minority classes while maintaining the precision, leading to higher test accuracy.

Based on the observation, we exploit the linear and semantic pseudo-labels differently in different classes for debaising. For example, when linear pseudo-label points to the majorities, more semantic pseudo-label component contributes to the final pseudo-label to prevent false positives towards head classes, and the vice versa when the linear pseudo-label predicts minority.

Experimental Results

We use the imbalanced versions of CIFAR-10/100 and STL-10 under diverse cases of imbalances in unlabeled data ($ \gamma_u \neq \gamma_l$), including the same imbalance with labeled data ($ \gamma_u = \gamma_l$).

Same class imbalance ($ \gamma_l = \gamma_u $)

We compare DASO with several baseline methods, with or without applying class re-balancing strategies such as LA and ABC.

Various class imbalance ($ \gamma_l \neq \gamma_u $)

The class distribution of unlabeled data could be either unknown or arguably different from that of labeled data in real-world. To simulate such scenarios, for CIFAR10-LT, uniform distributions ($ \gamma_u = 1$) and flipped long-tailed distribution with respect to labeled data ($ \gamma_u=1/100 $) are considered. For STL10-LT, we only control the degree of imbalance in labeled data ($ \gamma_l $) due to unknown distribution of unlabeled data.

Realistic Scenarios

For real-world scenarios, long-tailed Semi-Aves benchmark including large unlabeled open-set data is considered. Both labeled data ($ \mathcal{X} $) and unlabeled data ($ \mathcal{U} $) show long-tailed distributions, while $ \mathcal{U} $ contains large open-set class examples ($ \mathcal{U}_{\text{out}} $). We report the results on both cases: $ \mathcal{U} = \mathcal{U}_{\text{in}} $ and $ \mathcal{U} = \mathcal{U}_{\text{in}} + \mathcal{U}_{\text{out}} $.

Qualitative Analysis

We qualitatively analyze how DASO improves the performance under imbalanced SSL setup. We consider FixMatch as baseline trained on CIFAR10-LT under $ \gamma=100 $ and $ N_1 = 500 $.

Unbiased pseudo-label improves test accuracy.

DASO significantly improves the recall and test accuracy values on the minority classes, while preserving those from the majority classes.

Comparison of train curves for the recall and test accuracy values.

Tail-class clusters are better identified.

Learning with DASO helps the model to establish tail-class clusters, which can further reduce the biases from the classifier.

Comparisons of t-SNE from feature representations.

Related Links

There's a lot of excellent work that was introduced around the same time as ours.

CoSSL introduces a co-learning framework that decouples the learning of representation and classifier in imbalanced SSL.

DebiasMatch proposes a general debiased learning for pseudo-labels based on counterfactual reasoning and adaptive margins.

Spread Spurious Attribute (SSA) proposes a method of adaptive thresholds for pseudo-labeling that does not rely on the assumption: identical class distributions of labeled and unlabeled data (Secs. 4.2 and 5.4).


If you find our work useful for your research, please cite with the following bibtex:

   title={DASO: Distribution-Aware Semantics-Oriented Pseudo-label for Imbalanced Semi-Supervised Learning},
   author={Oh, Youngtaek and Kim, Dong-Jin and Kweon, In So},
   booktitle={Proceedings of the IEEE/CVF Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR)},