Simple and Principled Uncertainty Estimation with Deterministic Deep Learning via Distance Awareness

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 (NeurIPS 2020)

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Authors

Jeremiah Liu, Zi Lin, Shreyas Padhy, Dustin Tran, Tania Bedrax Weiss, Balaji Lakshminarayanan

Abstract

Bayesian neural networks (BNN) and deep ensembles are principled approaches to estimate the predictive uncertainty of a deep learning model. However their practicality in real-time, industrial-scale applications are limited due to their heavy memory and inference cost. This motivates us to study principled approaches to high-quality uncertainty estimation that require only a single deep neural network (DNN). By formalizing the uncertainty quantification as a minimax learning problem, we first identify input distance awareness, i.e., the model’s ability to quantify the distance of a testing example from the training data in the input space, as a necessary condition for a DNN to achieve high-quality (i.e., minimax optimal) uncertainty estimation. We then propose Spectral-normalized Neural Gaussian Process (SNGP), a simple method that improves the distance-awareness ability of modern DNNs, by adding a weight normalization step during training and replacing the output layer. On a suite of vision and language understanding tasks and on modern architectures (Wide-ResNet and BERT), SNGP is competitive with deep ensembles in prediction, calibration and out-of-domain detection, and outperforms the other single-model approaches.