Data Augmentation Revisited: Rethinking the Distribution Gap between Clean and Augmented Data


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Data augmentation has been widely applied as an effective methodology to prevent over-fitting in particular when training very deep neural networks. The essential benefit comes from introducing additional priors in visual invariance, and thus generate images in different appearances but containing the same semantics. Recently, researchers proposed a few powerful data augmentation techniques which indeed improved accuracy, yet we notice that these methods have also caused a considerable gap between clean and augmented data. This paper revisits this problem from an analytical perspective, for which we estimate the upper-bound of testing loss using two terms, named empirical risk and generalization error, respectively. Data augmentation significantly reduces the generalization error, but meanwhile leads to a larger empirical risk, which can be alleviated by a simple algorithm, i.e. using less-augmented data to refine the model trained on fully-augmented data. We validate our approach on a few popular image classification datasets including CIFAR and ImageNet, and demonstrate consistent accuracy gain. We also conjecture that this simple strategy implies a generalized approach to circumvent local minima, which is of value to future research on model optimization.
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