|M. Pawan Kumar|
SMOOTH LOSS FUNCTIONS FOR DEEP TOP-K CLASSIFICATION
L. Berrada, A. Zisserman and M. Pawan Kumar
In Proceedings of International Conference on Learning Representations (ICLR), 2018
The top-k error is a common measure of performance in machine learning and computer vision. In practice, top-k classification is typically performed with deep neural networks trained with the cross-entropy loss. Theoretical results indeed suggest that cross-entropy is an optimal learning objective for such a task in the limit of infinite data. In the context of limited and noisy data however, the use of a loss function that is specifically designed for top-k classification can bring significant improvements. Our empirical evidence suggests that the loss function must be smooth and have non-sparse gradients in order to work well with deep neural networks. Consequently, we introduce a family of smoothed loss functions that are suited to top-k optimization via deep learning. The widely used cross-entropy is a special case of our family. Evaluating our smooth loss functions is computationally challenging: a naı̈ve algorithm would require O( n choose k ) operations, where n is the number of classes. Thanks to a connection to polynomial algebra and a divide-and-conquer approach, we provide an algorithm with a time complexity of O(kn). Furthermore, we present a novel approximation to obtain fast and stable algorithms on GPUs with single floating point precision. We compare the performance of the cross-entropy loss and our margin-based losses in various regimes of noise and data size, for the predominant use case of k = 5. Our investigation reveals that our loss is more robust to noise and overfitting than cross-entropy.