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Workshop: Workshop on Distribution Shifts: New Frontiers with Foundation Models

Data Filtering Networks

Alex Fang · Albin Madappally Jose · Amit Jain · Ludwig Schmidt · Alexander Toshev · Vaishaal Shankar

Keywords: [ large scale machine learning ] [ dataset filtering ] [ pre-training ] [ Datasets ] [ dataset curation ]


Large training sets have become a cornerstone of machine learning and are the foundation for recent advances in language modeling and multimodal learning. While data curation for pre-training is often still ad-hoc, one common paradigm is to first collect a massive pool of data from the Web and then filter this candidate pool down to an actual training set via various heuristics. In this work, we study the problem of learning a data filtering network (DFN) for this second step of filtering a large uncurated dataset. Our key finding is that the quality of a network for filtering is distinct from its performance on downstream tasks: for instance, a model that performs well on ImageNet can yield worse training sets than a model with low ImageNet accuracy that is trained on a small amount of high-quality data. Based on our insights, we construct new data filtering networks that induce state-of-the-art image-text datasets. Specifically, our best performing dataset DFN-5B enables us to train state-of-the-art models for their compute budgets: among other improvements on a variety of tasks, a ViT-H trained on our dataset achieves 83.0% zero-shot transfer accuracy on ImageNet, out-performing models trained on other datasets such as LAION-2B, DataComp-1B, or OpenAI’s WIT. In order to facilitate further research in dataset design, we also release a new 2 billion example dataset DFN-2B and show that high performance data filtering networks can be trained from scratch using only publicly available data.

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