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Workshop: Symmetry and Geometry in Neural Representations

Random Field Augmentations for Self-Supervised Representation Learning

Philip Mansfield · Arash Afkanpour · Warren Morningstar · Karan Singhal


Self-supervised representation learning is heavily dependent on data augmentations to specify the invariances encoded in representations. Previous work has shown that applying diverse data augmentations is crucial to downstream performance, but augmentation techniques remain under-explored. In this work, we propose a new family of local transformations based on Gaussian random fields to generate image augmentations for self-supervised representation learning. These transformations generalize the well-established affine and color transformations (translation, rotation, color jitter, etc.) and greatly increase the space of augmentations by allowing transformation parameter values to vary from pixel to pixel. The parameters are treated as continuous functions of spatial coordinates, and modeled as independent Gaussian random fields. Empirical results show the effectiveness of the new transformations for self-supervised representation learning. Specifically, we achieve a 1.7% top-1 accuracy improvement over baseline on ImageNet downstream classification, and a 3.6% improvement on out-of-distribution iNaturalist downstream classification. However, due to the flexibility of the new transformations, learned representations are sensitive to hyperparameters. While mild transformations improve representations, we observe that strong transformations can degrade the structure of an image, indicating that balancing the diversity and strength of augmentations is important for improving generalization of learned representations.

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