Data-Centric Debugging: mitigating model failures via targeted data collection


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Deep neural networks can be unreliable in the real world when the training set does not adequately cover all the settings where they are deployed. Focusing on image classification, we consider the setting where we have an error distribution $\mathcal{E}$ representing a deployment scenario where the model fails. We have access to a small set of samples $\mathcal{E}_{sample}$ from $\mathcal{E}$ and it can be expensive to obtain additional samples. In the traditional model development framework, mitigating failures of the model in $\mathcal{E}$ can be challenging and is often done in an ad hoc manner. In this paper, we propose a general methodology for model debugging that can systemically improve model performance on $\mathcal{E}$ while maintaining its performance on the original test set. Our key assumption is that we have access to a large pool of weakly (noisily) labeled data $\mathcal{F}$. However, naively adding $\mathcal{F}$ to the training would hurt model performance due to the large extent of label noise. Our Data-Centric Debugging (DCD) framework carefully creates a debug-train set by selecting images from $\mathcal{F}$ that are perceptually similar to the images in $\mathcal{E}_{sample}$. To do this, we use the $\ell_2$ distance in the feature space (penultimate layer activations) of various models including ResNet, Robust ResNet and DINO where we observe DINO ViTs are significantly better at discovering similar images compared to Resnets. Compared to LPIPS, we find that our method reduces compute and storage requirements by 99.58\%. Compared to the baselines that maintain model performance on the test set, we achieve significantly (+9.45\%) improved results on the debug-heldout sets.
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