Estimating and Evaluating Regression Predictive Uncertainty in Deep Object Detectors

01/13/2021 ∙ by Ali Harakeh, et al. ∙ 16

Predictive uncertainty estimation is an essential next step for the reliable deployment of deep object detectors in safety-critical tasks. In this work, we focus on estimating predictive distributions for bounding box regression output with variance networks. We show that in the context of object detection, training variance networks with negative log likelihood (NLL) can lead to high entropy predictive distributions regardless of the correctness of the output mean. We propose to use the energy score as a non-local proper scoring rule and find that when used for training, the energy score leads to better calibrated and lower entropy predictive distributions than NLL. We also address the widespread use of non-proper scoring metrics for evaluating predictive distributions from deep object detectors by proposing an alternate evaluation approach founded on proper scoring rules. Using the proposed evaluation tools, we show that although variance networks can be used to produce high quality predictive distributions, ad-hoc approaches used by seminal object detectors for choosing regression targets during training do not provide wide enough data support for reliable variance learning. We hope that our work helps shift evaluation in probabilistic object detection to better align with predictive uncertainty evaluation in other machine learning domains. Code for all models, evaluation, and datasets is available at: https://github.com/asharakeh/probdet.git.

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