Synthetic image datasets offer unmatched advantages for designing and evaluating deep neural networks: they make it possible to (i) render as many data samples as needed, (ii) precisely control each scene and yield granular ground truth labels (and captions), (iii) precisely control distribution shifts between training and testing to isolate variables of interest for sound experimentation. Despite such promise, the use of synthetic image data is still limited -- and often played down -- mainly due to their lack of realism. Most works therefore rely on datasets of real images, which have often been scraped from public images on the internet, and may have issues with regards to privacy, bias, and copyright, while offering little control over how objects precisely appear. In this work, we present a path to democratize the use of photorealistic synthetic data: we develop a new generation of interactive environments for representation learning research, that offer both controllability and realism. We use the Unreal Engine, a powerful game engine well known in the entertainment industry, to produce PUG (Photorealistic Unreal Graphics) environments and datasets for representation learning. In this paper, we demonstrate the potential of PUG to enable more rigorous evaluations of vision models.
For more than a decade, researchers have measured progress in object recognition on ImageNet-based generalization benchmarks such as ImageNet-A, -C, and -R. Recent advances in foundation models, trained on orders of magnitude more data, have begun to saturate these standard benchmarks, but remain brittle in practice. This suggests standard benchmarks, which tend to focus on predefined or synthetic changes, may not be sufficient for measuring real world generalization. Consequently, we propose studying generalization across geography as a more realistic measure of progress using two datasets of objects from households across the globe. We conduct an extensive empirical evaluation of progress across nearly 100 vision models up to most recent foundation models. We first identify a progress gap between standard benchmarks and real-world, geographical shifts: progress on ImageNet results in up to 2.5x more progress on standard generalization benchmarks than real-world distribution shifts. Second, we study model generalization across geographies by measuring the disparities in performance across regions, a more fine-grained measure of real world generalization. We observe all models have large geographic disparities, even foundation CLIP models, with differences of 7-20% in accuracy between regions. Counter to modern intuition, we discover progress on standard benchmarks fails to improve geographic disparities and often exacerbates them: geographic disparities between the least performant models and today's best models have more than tripled. Our results suggest scaling alone is insufficient for consistent robustness to real-world distribution shifts. Finally, we highlight in early experiments how simple last layer retraining on more representative, curated data can complement scaling as a promising direction of future work, reducing geographic disparity on both benchmarks by over two-thirds.
Self-supervised learning, dubbed the dark matter of intelligence, is a promising path to advance machine learning. Yet, much like cooking, training SSL methods is a delicate art with a high barrier to entry. While many components are familiar, successfully training a SSL method involves a dizzying set of choices from the pretext tasks to training hyper-parameters. Our goal is to lower the barrier to entry into SSL research by laying the foundations and latest SSL recipes in the style of a cookbook. We hope to empower the curious researcher to navigate the terrain of methods, understand the role of the various knobs, and gain the know-how required to explore how delicious SSL can be.
Despite impressive advances in object-recognition, deep learning systems' performance degrades significantly across geographies and lower income levels raising pressing concerns of inequity. Addressing such performance gaps remains a challenge, as little is understood about why performance degrades across incomes or geographies. We take a step in this direction by annotating images from Dollar Street, a popular benchmark of geographically and economically diverse images, labeling each image with factors such as color, shape, and background. These annotations unlock a new granular view into how objects differ across incomes and regions. We then use these object differences to pinpoint model vulnerabilities across incomes and regions. We study a range of modern vision models, finding that performance disparities are most associated with differences in texture, occlusion, and images with darker lighting. We illustrate how insights from our factor labels can surface mitigations to improve models' performance disparities. As an example, we show that mitigating a model's vulnerability to texture can improve performance on the lower income level. We release all the factor annotations along with an interactive dashboard to facilitate research into more equitable vision systems.
Machine learning models have been found to learn shortcuts -- unintended decision rules that are unable to generalize -- undermining models' reliability. Previous works address this problem under the tenuous assumption that only a single shortcut exists in the training data. Real-world images are rife with multiple visual cues from background to texture. Key to advancing the reliability of vision systems is understanding whether existing methods can overcome multiple shortcuts or struggle in a Whac-A-Mole game, i.e., where mitigating one shortcut amplifies reliance on others. To address this shortcoming, we propose two benchmarks: 1) UrbanCars, a dataset with precisely controlled spurious cues, and 2) ImageNet-W, an evaluation set based on ImageNet for watermark, a shortcut we discovered affects nearly every modern vision model. Along with texture and background, ImageNet-W allows us to study multiple shortcuts emerging from training on natural images. We find computer vision models, including large foundation models -- regardless of training set, architecture, and supervision -- struggle when multiple shortcuts are present. Even methods explicitly designed to combat shortcuts struggle in a Whac-A-Mole dilemma. To tackle this challenge, we propose Last Layer Ensemble, a simple-yet-effective method to mitigate multiple shortcuts without Whac-A-Mole behavior. Our results surface multi-shortcut mitigation as an overlooked challenge critical to advancing the reliability of vision systems. The datasets and code are released: https://github.com/facebookresearch/Whac-A-Mole.git.
Deep learning vision systems are widely deployed across applications where reliability is critical. However, even today's best models can fail to recognize an object when its pose, lighting, or background varies. While existing benchmarks surface examples challenging for models, they do not explain why such mistakes arise. To address this need, we introduce ImageNet-X, a set of sixteen human annotations of factors such as pose, background, or lighting the entire ImageNet-1k validation set as well as a random subset of 12k training images. Equipped with ImageNet-X, we investigate 2,200 current recognition models and study the types of mistakes as a function of model's (1) architecture, e.g. transformer vs. convolutional, (2) learning paradigm, e.g. supervised vs. self-supervised, and (3) training procedures, e.g., data augmentation. Regardless of these choices, we find models have consistent failure modes across ImageNet-X categories. We also find that while data augmentation can improve robustness to certain factors, they induce spill-over effects to other factors. For example, strong random cropping hurts robustness on smaller objects. Together, these insights suggest to advance the robustness of modern vision models, future research should focus on collecting additional data and understanding data augmentation schemes. Along with these insights, we release a toolkit based on ImageNet-X to spur further study into the mistakes image recognition systems make.
Recent state-of-the-art vision models introduced new architectures, learning paradigms, and larger pretraining data, leading to impressive performance on tasks such as classification. While previous generations of vision models were shown to lack robustness to factors such as pose, it's unclear the extent to which this next generation of models are more robust. To study this question, we develop a dataset of more than 7 million images with controlled changes in pose, position, background, lighting, and size. We study not only how robust recent state-of-the-art models are, but also the extent to which models can generalize variation in factors when they're present during training. We consider a catalog of recent vision models, including vision transformers (ViT), self-supervised models such as masked autoencoders (MAE), and models trained on larger datasets such as CLIP. We find out-of-the-box, even today's best models are not robust to common changes in pose, size, and background. When some samples varied during training, we found models required a significant portion of diversity to generalize -- though eventually robustness did improve. When diversity is only seen for some classes however, we found models did not generalize to other classes, unless the classes were very similar to those seen varying during training. We hope our work will shed further light on the blind spots of SoTA models and spur the development of more robust vision models.
Deep learning has led to remarkable advances in computer vision. Even so, today's best models are brittle when presented with variations that differ even slightly from those seen during training. Minor shifts in the pose, color, or illumination of an object can lead to catastrophic misclassifications. State-of-the art models struggle to understand how a set of variations can affect different objects. We propose a framework for instilling a notion of how objects vary in more realistic settings. Our approach applies the formalism of Lie groups to capture continuous transformations to improve models' robustness to distributional shifts. We apply our framework on top of state-of-the-art self-supervised learning (SSL) models, finding that explicitly modeling transformations with Lie groups leads to substantial performance gains of greater than 10% for MAE on both known instances seen in typical poses now presented in new poses, and on unknown instances in any pose. We also apply our approach to ImageNet, finding that the Lie operator improves performance by almost 4%. These results demonstrate the promise of learning transformations to improve model robustness.
A grand goal in deep learning research is to learn representations capable of generalizing across distribution shifts. Disentanglement is one promising direction aimed at aligning a models representations with the underlying factors generating the data (e.g. color or background). Existing disentanglement methods, however, rely on an often unrealistic assumption: that factors are statistically independent. In reality, factors (like object color and shape) are correlated. To address this limitation, we propose a relaxed disentanglement criterion - the Hausdorff Factorized Support (HFS) criterion - that encourages a factorized support, rather than a factorial distribution, by minimizing a Hausdorff distance. This allows for arbitrary distributions of the factors over their support, including correlations between them. We show that the use of HFS consistently facilitates disentanglement and recovery of ground-truth factors across a variety of correlation settings and benchmarks, even under severe training correlations and correlation shifts, with in parts over +60% in relative improvement over existing disentanglement methods. In addition, we find that leveraging HFS for representation learning can even facilitate transfer to downstream tasks such as classification under distribution shifts. We hope our original approach and positive empirical results inspire further progress on the open problem of robust generalization.
Secure multi-party computation (MPC) allows parties to perform computations on data while keeping that data private. This capability has great potential for machine-learning applications: it facilitates training of machine-learning models on private data sets owned by different parties, evaluation of one party's private model using another party's private data, etc. Although a range of studies implement machine-learning models via secure MPC, such implementations are not yet mainstream. Adoption of secure MPC is hampered by the absence of flexible software frameworks that "speak the language" of machine-learning researchers and engineers. To foster adoption of secure MPC in machine learning, we present CrypTen: a software framework that exposes popular secure MPC primitives via abstractions that are common in modern machine-learning frameworks, such as tensor computations, automatic differentiation, and modular neural networks. This paper describes the design of CrypTen and measure its performance on state-of-the-art models for text classification, speech recognition, and image classification. Our benchmarks show that CrypTen's GPU support and high-performance communication between (an arbitrary number of) parties allows it to perform efficient private evaluation of modern machine-learning models under a semi-honest threat model. For example, two parties using CrypTen can securely predict phonemes in speech recordings using Wav2Letter faster than real-time. We hope that CrypTen will spur adoption of secure MPC in the machine-learning community.