Debugging and Explaining Metric Learning Approaches: An Influence Function Based Perspective

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 35 (NeurIPS 2022) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Ruofan Liu, Yun Lin, XIANGLIN YANG, Jin Song Dong


Deep metric learning (DML) learns a generalizable embedding space where the representations of semantically similar samples are closer. Despite achieving good performance, the state-of-the-art models still suffer from the generalization errors such as farther similar samples and closer dissimilar samples in the space. In this work, we design an empirical influence function (EIF), a debugging and explaining technique for the generalization errors of state-of-the-art metric learning models. EIF is designed to efficiently identify and quantify how a subset of training samples contributes to the generalization errors. Moreover, given a user-specific error, EIF can be used to relabel a potentially noisy training sample as mitigation. In our quantitative experiment, EIF outperforms the traditional baseline in identifying more relevant training samples with statistical significance and 33.5% less time. In the field study on well-known datasets such as CUB200, CARS196, and InShop, EIF identifies 4.4%, 6.6%, and 17.7% labelling mistakes, indicating the direction of the DML community to further improve the model performance. Our code is available at