Rethinking Calibration of Deep Neural Networks: Do Not Be Afraid of Overconfidence

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 (NeurIPS 2021)

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Deng-Bao Wang, Lei Feng, Min-Ling Zhang


Capturing accurate uncertainty quantification of the prediction from deep neural networks is important in many real-world decision-making applications. A reliable predictor is expected to be accurate when it is confident about its predictions and indicate high uncertainty when it is likely to be inaccurate. However, modern neural networks have been found to be poorly calibrated, primarily in the direction of overconfidence. In recent years, there is a surge of research on model calibration by leveraging implicit or explicit regularization techniques during training, which obtain well calibration by avoiding overconfident outputs. In our study, we empirically found that despite the predictions obtained from these regularized models are better calibrated, they suffer from not being as calibratable, namely, it is harder to further calibrate their predictions with post-hoc calibration methods like temperature scaling and histogram binning. We conduct a series of empirical studies showing that overconfidence may not hurt final calibration performance if post-hoc calibration is allowed, rather, the penalty of confident outputs will compress the room of potential improvements in post-hoc calibration phase. Our experimental findings point out a new direction to improve calibration of DNNs by considering main training and post-hoc calibration as a unified framework.