Contemplating real-world object classification

Ali Borji

Deep object recognition models have been very successful over benchmark datasets such as ImageNet. How accurate and robust are they to distribution shifts arising from natural and synthetic variations in datasets? Prior research on this problem has primarily focused on ImageNet variations (e.g., ImageNetV2, ImageNet-A). To avoid potential inherited biases in these studies, we take a different approach. Specifically, we reanalyze the ObjectNet dataset recently proposed by Barbu et al. containing objects in daily life situations. They showed a dramatic performance drop of the state of the art object recognition models on this dataset. Due to the importance and implications of their results regarding the generalization ability of deep models, we take a second look at their analysis. We find that applying deep models to the isolated objects, rather than the entire scene as is done in the original paper, results in around 20-30% performance improvement. Relative to the numbers reported in Barbu et al., around 10-15% of the performance loss is recovered, without any test time data augmentation. Despite this gain, however, we conclude that deep models still suffer drastically on the ObjectNet dataset. We also investigate the robustness of models against synthetic image perturbations such as geometric transformations (e.g., scale, rotation, translation), natural image distortions (e.g., impulse noise, blur) as well as adversarial attacks (e.g., FGSM and PGD-5). Our results indicate that limiting the object area as much as possible (i.e., from the entire image to the bounding box to the segmentation mask) leads to consistent improvement in accuracy and robustness.

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