Data Invariants to Understand Unsupervised Out-of-Distribution Detection

Doorenbos, Lars; Sznitman, Raphael; Márquez-Neila, Pablo (October 2022). Data Invariants to Understand Unsupervised Out-of-Distribution Detection (In Press). In: European conference on computer vision.

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Unsupervised out-of-distribution (U-OOD) detection has recently attracted much attention due to its importance in mission-critical systems and broader applicability over its supervised counterpart.
Despite this increased attention, U-OOD methods suffer from important shortcomings.
By performing a large-scale evaluation on different benchmarks and image modalities, we show in this work that most popular state-of-the-art methods are unable to consistently outperform a simple anomaly detector based on pre-trained features and the Mahalanobis distance (MahaAD).
A key reason for the inconsistencies of these methods is the lack of a formal description of U-OOD.
Motivated by a simple thought experiment, we propose a characterization of U-OOD based on the invariants of the training dataset.
We show how this characterization is unknowingly embodied in the top-scoring MahaAD method, thereby explaining its quality. Furthermore, our approach can be used to interpret predictions of U-OOD detectors and provides insights into good practices for evaluating future U-OOD methods.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


10 Strategic Research Centers > ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research > ARTORG Center - AI in Medical Imaging Laboratory

Graduate School:

Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences (GCB)

UniBE Contributor:

Doorenbos, Lars Jelte, Sznitman, Raphael, Márquez Neila, Pablo


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Lars Jelte Doorenbos

Date Deposited:

26 Jul 2022 10:20

Last Modified:

06 Dec 2022 16:28




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