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Reproducibility in Multiple Instance Learning: A Case For Algorithmic Unit Tests

Edward Raff · James Holt

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #1922
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Wed 13 Dec 3 p.m. PST — 5 p.m. PST


Multiple Instance Learning (MIL) is a sub-domain of classification problems with positive and negative labels and a "bag" of inputs, where the label is positive if and only if a positive element is contained within the bag, and otherwise is negative. Training in this context requires associating the bag-wide label to instance-level information, and implicitly contains a causal assumption and asymmetry to the task (i.e., you can't swap the labels without changing the semantics). MIL problems occur in healthcare (one malignant cell indicates cancer), cyber security (one malicious executable makes an infected computer), and many other tasks. In this work, we examine five of the most prominent deep-MIL models and find that none of them respects the standard MIL assumption. They are able to learn anti-correlated instances, i.e., defaulting to "positive" labels until seeing a negative counter-example, which should not be possible for a correct MIL model. We suspect that enhancements and other works derived from these models will share the same issue. In any context in which these models are being used, this creates the potential for learning incorrect models, which creates risk of operational failure. We identify and demonstrate this problem via a proposed ``algorithmic unit test'', where we create synthetic datasets that can be solved by a MIL respecting model, and which clearly reveal learning that violates MIL assumptions. The five evaluated methods each fail one or more of these tests. This provides a model-agnostic way to identify violations of modeling assumptions, which we hope will be useful for future development and evaluation of MIL models.

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