Selective Transfer Between Learning Tasks Using Task-Based Boosting


  • Eric Eaton Bryn Mawr College
  • Marie desJardins University of Maryland Baltimore County


The success of transfer learning on a target task is highly dependent on the selected source data. Instance transfer methods reuse data from the source tasks to augment the training data for the target task. If poorly chosen, this source data may inhibit learning, resulting in negative transfer. The current most widely used algorithm for instance transfer, TrAdaBoost, performs poorly when given irrelevant source data. We present a novel task-based boosting technique for instance transfer that selectively chooses the source knowledge to transfer to the target task. Our approach performs boosting at both the instance level and the task level, assigning higher weight to those source tasks that show positive transferability to the target task, and adjusting the weights of individual instances within each source task via AdaBoost. We show that this combination of task- and instance-level boosting significantly improves transfer performance over existing instance transfer algorithms when given a mix of relevant and irrelevant source data, especially for small amounts of data on the target task.




How to Cite

Eaton, E., & desJardins, M. (2011). Selective Transfer Between Learning Tasks Using Task-Based Boosting. Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 25(1), 337-343. Retrieved from



AAAI Technical Track: Machine Learning