In visual retrieval systems, updating the embedding model requires recomputing features for every piece of data. This expensive process is referred to as backfilling. Recently, the idea of backward compatible training (BCT) was proposed. To avoid the cost of backfilling, BCT modifies training of the new model to make its representations compatible with those of the old model. However, BCT can significantly hinder the performance of the new model. In this work, we propose a new learning paradigm for representation learning: forward compatible training (FCT). In FCT, when the old model is trained, we also prepare for a future unknown version of the model. We propose learning side-information, an auxiliary feature for each sample which facilitates future updates of the model. To develop a powerful and flexible framework for model compatibility, we combine side-information with a forward transformation from old to new embeddings. Training of the new model is not modified, hence, its accuracy is not degraded. We demonstrate significant retrieval accuracy improvement compared to BCT for various datasets: ImageNet-1k (+18.1%), Places-365 (+5.4%), and VGG-Face2 (+8.3%). FCT obtains model compatibility when the new and old models are trained across different datasets, losses, and architectures.

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