How Much Data Are Augmentations Worth? An Investigation into Scaling Laws, Invariance, and Implicit Regularization
Keywords: Data Augmentations, Stochasticity, Flatness, Neural Networks, Invariance
TL;DR: We uncover mechanisms by which data augmentations regularize training and inform the relationship between augmentations and extra data, invariance, stochasticity, and flatness.
Abstract: Despite the clear performance benefits of data augmentations, little is known about why they are so effective. In this paper, we disentangle several key mechanisms through which data augmentations operate. Establishing an exchange rate between augmented and additional real data, we find that in out-of-distribution testing scenarios, augmentations which yield samples that are diverse, but inconsistent with the data distribution can be even more valuable than additional training data. Moreover, we find that data augmentations which encourage invariances can be more valuable than invariance alone, especially on small and medium sized training sets. Following this observation, we show that augmentations induce additional stochasticity during training, effectively flattening the loss landscape.
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