skip to main content


Title: To Smooth or Not? When Label Smoothing Meets Noisy Labels
Label smoothing (LS) is an arising learning paradigm that uses the positively weighted average of both the hard training labels and uniformly distributed soft labels. It was shown that LS serves as a regularizer for training data with hard labels and therefore improves the generalization of the model. Later it was reported LS even helps with improving robustness when learning with noisy labels. However, we observed that the advantage of LS vanishes when we operate in a high label noise regime. Intuitively speaking, this is due to the increased entropy of ℙ(noisy label|X) when the noise rate is high, in which case, further applying LS tends to "over-smooth" the estimated posterior. We proceeded to discover that several learning-with-noisy-labels solutions in the literature instead relate more closely to negative/not label smoothing (NLS), which acts counter to LS and defines as using a negative weight to combine the hard and soft labels! We provide understandings for the properties of LS and NLS when learning with noisy labels. Among other established properties, we theoretically show NLS is considered more beneficial when the label noise rates are high. We provide extensive experimental results on multiple benchmarks to support our findings too.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
2007951 2143895
NSF-PAR ID:
10391572
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
International Conference on Machine Learning
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. null (Ed.)
    Human-annotated labels are often prone to noise, and the presence of such noise will degrade the performance of the resulting deep neural network (DNN) models. Much of the literature (with several recent exceptions) of learning with noisy labels focuses on the case when the label noise is independent of features. Practically, annotations errors tend to be instance-dependent and often depend on the difficulty levels of recognizing a certain task. Applying existing results from instance-independent settings would require a significant amount of estimation of noise rates. Therefore, providing theoretically rigorous solutions for learning with instance-dependent label noise remains a challenge. In this paper, we propose CORES (COnfidence REgularized Sample Sieve), which progressively sieves out corrupted examples. The implementation of CORES does not require specifying noise rates and yet we are able to provide theoretical guarantees of CORES in filtering out the corrupted examples. This high-quality sample sieve allows us to treat clean examples and the corrupted ones separately in training a DNN solution, and such a separation is shown to be advantageous in the instance-dependent noise setting. We demonstrate the performance of CORES^2 on CIFAR10 and CIFAR100 datasets with synthetic instance-dependent label noise and Clothing1M with real-world human noise. As of independent interests, our sample sieve provides a generic machinery for anatomizing noisy datasets and provides a flexible interface for various robust training techniques to further improve the performance. Code is available at https://github.com/UCSC-REAL/cores. 
    more » « less
  2. Existing research on learning with noisy labels mainly focuses on synthetic label noise. Synthetic label noise, though has clean structures which greatly enable statistical analyses, often fails to model the real-world noise patterns. The recent literature has observed several efforts to offer real-world noisy datasets, e.g., Food-101N, WebVision, and Clothing1M. Yet the existing efforts suffer from two caveats: firstly, the lack of ground-truth verification makes it hard to theoretically study the property and treatment of real-world label noise. Secondly, these efforts are often of large scales, which may result in unfair comparisons of robust methods within reasonable and accessible computation power. To better understand real-world label noise, it is important to establish controllable and moderate-sized real-world noisy datasets with both ground-truth and noisy labels. This work presents two new benchmark datasets, which we name as CIFAR-10N, CIFAR-100N, equipping the training datasets of CIFAR-10 and CIFAR-100 with human-annotated real-world noisy labels that we collect from Amazon Mechanical Turk. We quantitatively and qualitatively show that real-world noisy labels follow an instance-dependent pattern rather than the classically assumed and adopted ones (e.g., class-dependent label noise). We then initiate an effort to benchmark a subset of the existing solutions using CIFAR-10N and CIFAR-100N. We further proceed to study the memorization of correct and wrong predictions, which further illustrates the difference between human noise and class-dependent synthetic noise. We show indeed the real-world noise patterns impose new and outstanding challenges as compared to synthetic label noise. These observations require us to rethink the treatment of noisy labels, and we hope the availability of these two datasets would facilitate the development and evaluation of future learning with noisy label solutions. The corresponding datasets and the leaderboard are publicly available at http://noisylabels.com. 
    more » « less
  3. Producing high-quality labeled data is a challenge in any supervised learning problem, where in many cases, human involvement is necessary to ensure the label quality. However, human annotations are not flawless, especially in the case of a challenging problem. In nontrivial problems, the high disagreement among annotators results in noisy labels, which affect the performance of any machine learning model. In this work, we consider three noise reduction strategies to improve the label quality in the Article-Comment Alignment Problem, where the main task is to classify article-comment pairs according to their relevancy level. The first considered labeling disagreement reduction strategy utilizes annotators' background knowledge during the label aggregation step. The second strategy utilizes user disagreement during the training process. In the third and final strategy, we ask annotators to perform corrections and relabel the examples with noisy labels. We deploy these strategies and compare them to a resampling strategy for addressing the class imbalance, another common supervised learning challenge. These alternatives were evaluated on ACAP, a multiclass text pairs classification problem with highly imbalanced data, where one of the classes represents at most 15% of the dataset's entire population. Our results provide evidence that considered strategies can reduce disagreement between annotators. However, data quality improvement is insufficient to enhance classification accuracy in the article-comment alignment problem, which exhibits a high-class imbalance. The model performance is enhanced for the same problem by addressing the imbalance issue with a weight loss-based class distribution resampling. We show that allowing the model to pay more attention to the minority class during the training process with the presence of noisy examples improves the test accuracy by 3%. 
    more » « less
  4. We study the problem of learning conditional generators from noisy labeled samples, where the labels are corrupted by random noise. A standard training of conditional GANs will not only produce samples with wrong labels, but also generate poor quality samples. We consider two scenarios, depending on whether the noise model is known or not. When the distribution of the noise is known, we introduce a novel architecture which we call Robust Conditional GAN (RCGAN). The main idea is to corrupt the label of the generated sample before feeding to the adversarial discriminator, forcing the generator to produce samples with clean labels. This approach of passing through a matching noisy channel is justified by corresponding multiplicative approximation bounds between the loss of the RCGAN and the distance between the clean real distribution and the generator distribution. This shows that the proposed approach is robust, when used with a carefully chosen discriminator architecture, known as projection discriminator. When the distribution of the noise is not known, we provide an extension of our architecture, which we call RCGAN-U, that learns the noise model simultaneously while training the generator. We show experimentally on MNIST and CIFAR-10 datasets that both the approaches consistently improve upon baseline approaches, and RCGAN-U closely matches the performance of RCGAN. 
    more » « less
  5. We study the problem of learning conditional generators from noisy labeled samples, where the labels are corrupted by random noise. A standard training of conditional GANs will not only produce samples with wrong labels, but also generate poor quality samples. We consider two scenarios, depending on whether the noise model is known or not. When the distribution of the noise is known, we introduce a novel architecture which we call Robust Conditional GAN (RCGAN). The main idea is to corrupt the label of the generated sample before feeding to the adversarial discriminator, forcing the generator to produce samples with clean labels. This approach of passing through a matching noisy channel is justified by accompanying multiplicative approximation bounds between the loss of the RCGAN and the distance between the clean real distribution and the generator distribution. This shows that the proposed approach is robust, when used with a carefully chosen discriminator architecture, known as projection discriminator. When the distribution of the noise is not known, we provide an extension of our architecture, which we call RCGAN-U, that learns the noise model simultaneously while training the generator. We show experimentally on MNIST and CIFAR-10 datasets that both the approaches consistently improve upon baseline approaches, and RCGAN-U closely matches the performance of RCGAN. 
    more » « less