A Comprehensive Survey on Source-free Domain Adaptation

by   Zhiqi Yu, et al.

Over the past decade, domain adaptation has become a widely studied branch of transfer learning that aims to improve performance on target domains by leveraging knowledge from the source domain. Conventional domain adaptation methods often assume access to both source and target domain data simultaneously, which may not be feasible in real-world scenarios due to privacy and confidentiality concerns. As a result, the research of Source-Free Domain Adaptation (SFDA) has drawn growing attention in recent years, which only utilizes the source-trained model and unlabeled target data to adapt to the target domain. Despite the rapid explosion of SFDA work, yet there has no timely and comprehensive survey in the field. To fill this gap, we provide a comprehensive survey of recent advances in SFDA and organize them into a unified categorization scheme based on the framework of transfer learning. Instead of presenting each approach independently, we modularize several components of each method to more clearly illustrate their relationships and mechanics in light of the composite properties of each method. Furthermore, we compare the results of more than 30 representative SFDA methods on three popular classification benchmarks, namely Office-31, Office-home, and VisDA, to explore the effectiveness of various technical routes and the combination effects among them. Additionally, we briefly introduce the applications of SFDA and related fields. Drawing from our analysis of the challenges facing SFDA, we offer some insights into future research directions and potential settings.


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