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On the Strong Correlation Between Model Invariance and Generalization

Weijian Deng · Stephen Gould · Liang Zheng

Hall J (level 1) #705

Keywords: [ Model Invariance ] [ unsupervised model selection ] [ Correlation Study ] [ Model Generalization ]


Generalization and invariance are two essential properties of machine learning models. Generalization captures a model's ability to classify unseen data while invariance measures consistency of model predictions on transformations of the data. Existing research suggests a positive relationship: a model generalizing well should be invariant to certain visual factors. Building on this qualitative implication we make two contributions. First, we introduce effective invariance (EI), a simple and reasonable measure of model invariance which does not rely on image labels. Given predictions on a test image and its transformed version, EI measures how well the predictions agree and with what level of confidence. Second, using invariance scores computed by EI, we perform large-scale quantitative correlation studies between generalization and invariance, focusing on rotation and grayscale transformations. From a model-centric view, we observe generalization and invariance of different models exhibit a strong linear relationship, on both in-distribution and out-of-distribution datasets. From a dataset-centric view, we find a certain model's accuracy and invariance linearly correlated on different test sets. Apart from these major findings, other minor but interesting insights are also discussed.

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