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Efficient Augmentation via Data Subsampling

This repository contains code for the paper:

Efficient Augmentation via Data Subsampling

Michael Kuchnik, Virginia Smith

International Conference on Learning Representations (ICLR), 2019


Data augmentation is the process of applying class-preserving transformations to data to improve generalization performance. It's responsible for a large portion of the progress in modern deep learning systems, yet the performance of data augmentation on a per sample basis hasn't been studied well. Augmentation is typically applied to all images, which is computationally wasteful and can lead to a variety of problems downstream. For instance, it's harder to debug incorrect predictions when data augmentation has increased the size of the training set by a large factor. Why apply augmentations to all images if equivalent performance can be obtained by augmenting a small subset of those points?

This work is about reducing the amount of data points that are augmented without giving up out of sample generalization ability. We investigate augmentations applied to a subset of the training set. We focus on three types of augmentation: translation, rotation, and crop.

Translated Image Rotated Image Cropped Image

The policies we explore use score functions based off of the training point's loss or Leave-One-Out (LOO) influence. We demonstrate that policies weighted by score functions can achieve the same benefits as full augmentation with a fraction of the augmentation budget.

For example, with a CIFAR-10 task, translation augmentations, and LOO influence, we achieve the following results (the red horizontal line corresponds to no augmentation and the green line is with full augmentation):

Efficient Cifar Translate Augmentations

From this plot, we can observe that:

  1. Random sampling yields reasonable performance for a small number of data points.
  2. Smarter sampling policies, such as those based off of model influence or loss, can greatly improve upon random policies.

The difference in performance between random and score-driven policies comes from the points that are chosen to be augmented. Random policies select points uniformly at random, while score-driven policies select points with probability proportional to their scores. High scoring points correspond to the points with higher variation relative to the rest of the training set.

High Score Cifar

Lower scoring points are typically visually similar and easy to classify.

Low Score Cifar

From this, we can infer that augmenting the harder examples can yield better generalization performance than augmenting random points. Please see the full paper for more details.

Quick Start

A docker CIFAR-10 example is prepared which is relatively fast to run (about an hour or less). To run it with CPU:

bash scripts/

To run it with GPU (requires nvidia-docker to be installed):

bash scripts/

Otherwise, you can run it without docker with:

bash scripts/

The results are visualized in PDF form. The visualization script attempts to generate plots for all datasets (i.e., including MNIST and NORB), so it's expected that errors will be thrown for those datasets. It's safe to ignore these errors when they are printed in the console as the script will simply skip those cases.

The corresponding calls to run over all datasets are:

bash scripts/


bash scripts/


Python3 is used for nearly all experiments (there is a small amount of Matlab code). Python dependencies are listed in the requirements.txt files. Further dependencies, such as Octave, are included in the Docker builds.

DPP code

Please run the script before running DPP experiments. This will download required external dependencies.

bash scripts/


If you are using nvidia-docker, please install using the directions in their wiki:

Details of Running Experiments

Experiments can be run with a Python3 script, such as, which generates a numpy file (npz). There are many variants of experiments in this repository, and each one typically has a different script. A description is appended to the base filename to hint at the purpose of the experiment. For example, runs MNIST experiments, runs CIFAR-10 experiments, and runs NORB experiments.

The numpy file can then be processed downstream with an IPython notebook with a name being a variant of Visualize_LOO_Experiments.ipynb. The Visualize_LOO_Experiments.ipynb notebook can be executed with a variety of parameters (e.g., for all datasets) using the Python3 script. Similarly named scripts are found for other notebooks.

Appendix Experiments

The appendix experiments may require more work to run and visualize. Usually these involve running multiple experiments to generate multiple numpy files which can then be stitched together in the final figure.

For example, for clustering:



This will generate numpy files which can then be visualized individually into PDFs. Visualization is done with:


Finally, we can combine the results with previous results (requires vanilla experiments to have been run) with:


This effectively fuses the many experiments into one plot.

ResNet Training

The MNIST dataset tests are somewhat self-contained because the network used to featurize the dataset is small and can be trained online. However, the CIFAR-10 and NORB datasets are complex enough that they warrant training a deeper network. We use ResNet50v2 for these experiments, which is too slow to retrain constantly. Therefore, we train the network once and use it as a fixed (frozen weights) preprocessor for these datasets. We've included trained models in the models directory. We've also included code to train new models.

To train a CIFAR-10 deep network model, use:

python3 -m deep_model_training.cifar10_resnet

To train a NORB deep network model without augmentation, use:

python3 -m deep_model_training.norb_resnet

To train a NORB deep network model with augmentation, use:

python3 -m deep_model_training.norb_resnet --data_augmentation

The corresponding models will be saved under the saved_models directory:

ls saved_models/


Code for ICLR 2019 paper "Efficient Augmentation via Data Subsampling"





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