Signal Strength and Noise Drive Feature Preference in CNN Image ClassifiersDownload PDF

Published: 02 Nov 2021, Last Modified: 12 Mar 2024SVRHM 2021 PosterReaders: Everyone
Abstract: Feature preference in Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) image classifiers is integral to their decision making process, and while the topic has been well studied, it is still not understood at a fundamental level. We test a range of task relevant feature attributes (including shape, texture, and color) with varying degrees of signal and noise in highly controlled CNN image classification experiments using synthetic datasets to determine feature preferences. We find that CNNs will prefer features with stronger signal strength and lower noise irrespective of whether the feature is texture, shape, or color. This provides guidance for a predictive model for task relevant feature preferences, demonstrates pathways for bias in machine models that can be avoided with careful controls on experimental setup, and suggests that comparisons between how humans and machines prefer task relevant features in vision classification tasks should be revisited.
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