Feature Reconstruction From Outputs Can Mitigate Simplicity Bias in Neural NetworksDownload PDF

Published: 01 Feb 2023, Last Modified: 27 Feb 2023ICLR 2023 posterReaders: Everyone
Keywords: Simplicity Bias, Out-of-distribution robustness, OOD Generalization, Deep Learning
Abstract: Deep Neural Networks are known to be brittle to even minor distribution shifts compared to the training distribution. While one line of work has demonstrated that \emph{Simplicity Bias} (SB) of DNNs -- bias towards learning only the simplest features -- is a key reason for this brittleness, another recent line of work has surprisingly found that diverse/ complex features are indeed learned by the backbone, and their brittleness is due to the linear classification head relying primarily on the simplest features. To bridge the gap between these two lines of work, we first hypothesize and verify that while SB may not altogether preclude learning complex features, it amplifies simpler features over complex ones. Namely, simple features are replicated several times in the learned representations while complex features might not be replicated. This phenomenon, we term \emph{Feature Replication Hypothesis}, coupled with the \emph{Implicit Bias} of SGD to converge to maximum margin solutions in the feature space, leads the models to rely mostly on the simple features for classification. To mitigate this bias, we propose \emph{Feature Reconstruction Regularizer (FRR)} to ensure that the learned features can be reconstructed back from the logits. The use of \emph{FRR} in linear layer training (\emph{FRR-L}) encourages the use of more diverse features for classification. We further propose to finetune the full network by freezing the weights of the linear layer trained using \emph{FRR-L}, to refine the learned features, making them more suitable for classification. Using this simple solution, we demonstrate up to 15\% gains in OOD accuracy on the recently introduced semi-synthetic datasets with extreme distribution shifts. Moreover, we demonstrate noteworthy gains over existing SOTA methods on the standard OOD benchmark DomainBed as well.
Anonymous Url: I certify that there is no URL (e.g., github page) that could be used to find authors’ identity.
No Acknowledgement Section: I certify that there is no acknowledgement section in this submission for double blind review.
Code Of Ethics: I acknowledge that I and all co-authors of this work have read and commit to adhering to the ICLR Code of Ethics
Submission Guidelines: Yes
Please Choose The Closest Area That Your Submission Falls Into: Deep Learning and representational learning
TL;DR: We propose a regularizer that enforces the reconstruction of features from the output logits of neural networks, in order to overcome Simplicity Bias and boost their OOD generalization.
24 Replies