Evaluating Machine Accuracy on ImageNet

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Presented by

Siyuan Xia, Jiaxiang Liu, Jiabao Dong, Yipeng Du


ImageNet is the most influential data set in machine learning with images and corresponding labels over 1000 classes. This paper intends to explore the causes for performance differences between human experts and machine learning models, more specifically, CNN, on ImageNet.

Firstly, some images may fall into multiple classes. As a result, it is possible to underestimate the performance if we map each image to strictly one label, which is what is being done in the top-1 metric. Therefore, we adopt both top-1 and top-5 metrics where the performances of models, unlike human labelers, are linearly correlated in both cases.

Secondly, in contrast to the uniform performance of models on classes, humans tend to achieve better performances on inanimate objects. Human labelers achieve similar overall accuracies as the models, which indicates spaces of improvements on specific classes for machines.

Lastly, the setup of drawing training and test sets from the same distribution may favour models over human labelers. That is, the accuracy of multi-class prediction from models drops when the testing set is drawn from a different distribution than the training set, ImageNetV2. But this shift in distribution does not cause a problem for human labelers.

Experiment Setup

Multi-label annotations

Human Accuracy Measurement Process

Main Results

Other Observations

Difficult Images

The experiment also shed some light on images that are difficult to label. 10 images were misclassified by all of the human labelers. Among those 10 images, there was 1 image of a monkey and 9 of dogs. In addition, 27 images, with 19 in object classes and 8 in organism classes, were misclassified by all 72 machine learning models in this experiment. Only 2 images were labeled wrong by all human labelers and models. Both images contained dogs. Researchers also noted that difficult images for models are mostly images of objects and exclusively images of animals for human labelers.

Accuracies without dogs

As previously discussed in the paper, machine learning models tend to outperform human labelers when classifying the 118 dog classes. To better understand to what extent does models outperform human labelers, researchers computed the accuracies again by excluding all the dog classes. Results showed a 0.6% increase in accuracy on the ImageNet images using the best model and a 1.1% increase on the ImageNet V2 images. In comparison, the mean increases in accuracy for human labelers are 1.9% and 1.8% on the ImageNet and ImageNet V2 images respectively. Researchers also conducted a simulation to demonstrate that the increase in human labeling accuracy on non-dog images is significant. This simulation was done by bootstrapping to estimate the changes in accuracy when only using data for the non-dog classes, and simulation results show smaller increases than in the experiment.

In conclusion, it's more difficult for human labelers to classify images with dogs than it is for machine learning models.

Accuracies on objects

Researchers also computed machine and human labelers' accuracies on a subset of data with only objects, as opposed to organisms, to better illustrate the differences in performance. This test involved 590 object classes. As shown in the table above, there is a 3.3% and 3.4% increase in mean accuracies for human labelers on the ImageNet and ImageNet V2 images. In contrast, there is a 0.5% decrease in accuracy for the best model on both ImageNet and ImageNet V2. This indicates that human labelers are much better at classifying objects than these models are.

Accuracies on fast images

Unlike the CNN models, human labelers spent different amounts of time on different images, spanning from several seconds to 40 minutes. To further analyze the images that take human labelers less time to classify, researchers took a subset of images with median labeling time spent by human labelers of at most 60 seconds. These images were referred to as "fast images". There are 756 and 714 fast images from ImageNet and ImageNet V2 respectively, out of the total 2000 images used for evaluation. Accuracies of models and humans on the fast images increased significantly, especially for humans.

This result suggests that human labelers know when an image is difficult to label and would spend more time on it. It also shows that the models are more likely to correctly label images that human labelers can label relatively quickly.

Related Work

Conclusion and Future Work