Date of Award

Summer 8-9-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Computer Science

First Advisor

Ronaldo Estrada


Lifelong learning a.k.a Continual Learning is an advanced machine learning paradigm in which a system learns continuously, assembling the knowledge of prior skills in the process. The system becomes more proficient at acquiring new skill using its accumulated knowledge. This type of learning is one of the hallmarks of human intelligence. However, in the prevail- ing machine learning paradigm, each task is learned in isolation: given a dataset for a task, the system tries to find a machine learning model which performs well on the given dataset. Isolated learning paradigm has led to deep neural networks achieving the state-of-the-art performance on a wide variety of individual tasks. Although isolated learning has achieved much success in a number of applications, it has wide range of struggles while learning mul- tiple tasks in sequence. When trained on a new task using the isolated network performing well on prior task, standard neural network forget most of the information related to previous task by overwriting the old parameters for learning the new task at hand, a phenomenon often referred to as “catastrophic forgetting”. In comparison, humans can learn effectively new task without forgetting the old task and we can learn the new task quickly because we have gained so much knowledge in the past, which allows us to learn the new task with little data and lesser effort. This enables us to learn more and more continually in a self-motivated manner. We can also adapt our previous knowledge to solve unfamiliar problems, an ability beyond current machine learning systems.


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