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ImageNet-Hard: The Hardest Images Remaining from a Study of the Power of Zoom and Spatial Biases in Image Classification

Mohammad Reza Taesiri · Giang Nguyen · Sarra Habchi · Cor-Paul Bezemer · Anh Nguyen

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #305
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Thu 14 Dec 3 p.m. PST — 5 p.m. PST


Image classifiers are information-discarding machines, by design. Yet, how these models discard information remains mysterious. We hypothesize that one way for image classifiers to reach high accuracy is to first zoom to the most discriminative region in the image and then extract features from there to predict image labels, discarding the rest of the image. Studying six popular networks ranging from AlexNet to CLIP, we find that proper framing of the input image can lead to the correct classification of 98.91% of ImageNet images. Furthermore, we uncover positional biases in various datasets, especially a strong center bias in two popular datasets: ImageNet-A and ObjectNet. Finally, leveraging our insights into the potential of zooming, we propose a test-time augmentation (TTA) technique that improves classification accuracy by forcing models to explicitly perform zoom-in operations before making predictions.Our method is more interpretable, accurate, and faster than MEMO, a state-of-the-art (SOTA) TTA method. We introduce ImageNet-Hard, a new benchmark that challenges SOTA classifiers including large vision-language models even when optimal zooming is allowed.

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