Curriculum Learning | Bengio et al. | ICML 2009 | 2009

Brief information

  • Authors: Yoshua Bengio, Jérôme Louradour, Ronan Collobert, Jason Weston
  • Published year: 2009
  • Publication: ICML 2009


  • Humans and animals learn much better when the examples are not randomly presented but organized in a meaningful order which illustrates gradually more concepts, and gradually more complex ones.
  • We formalize such training strategies in the context of machine learning, and call them “curriculum learning”.
  • The experiments show that
    • significant improvements in generalization can be achieved.
  • We hypothesize that
    • curriculum learning has both an effect
      • on the speed of convergence of the training process to a minimum and,
      • on the quality of the local minima obtained in the case of non-convex criteria.
  • Curriculum learning can be seen as a particular form of continuation method (a general strategy for global optimization of non-convex functions)

1. Introduction

  • Previous research (Elman, 1993; Rohde & Plaut, 1999; Krueger & Dayan, 2009)
  • The idea of training a learning machine with a curriculum is to
    • start small,
    • learn easier aspects of the task or easier subtasks, and then
    • gradually increase the difficulty level (Elman, 1993).
  • Hypothesis that helps to explain some of the advantages of a curriculum strategy
    • Curriculum strategies can help to find better local minima of a non-convex training criterion, and appear on the surface to operate like a regularizer.
    • Curriculum strategies can speed the convergence of training towards the global minimum of a convex training criterion.

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