Uncertainty-based out-of-distribution detection requires suitable function space priors

by   Francesco D'Angelo, et al.

The need to avoid confident predictions on unfamiliar data has sparked interest in out-of-distribution (OOD) detection. It is widely assumed that Bayesian neural networks (BNNs) are well suited for this task, as the endowed epistemic uncertainty should lead to disagreement in predictions on outliers. In this paper, we question this assumption and show that proper Bayesian inference with function space priors induced by neural networks does not necessarily lead to good OOD detection. To circumvent the use of approximate inference, we start by studying the infinite-width case, where Bayesian inference can be exact due to the correspondence with Gaussian processes. Strikingly, the kernels induced under common architectural choices lead to uncertainties that do not reflect the underlying data generating process and are therefore unsuited for OOD detection. Importantly, we find this OOD behavior to be consistent with the corresponding finite-width networks. Desirable function space properties can be encoded in the prior in weight space, however, this currently only applies to a specified subset of the domain and thus does not inherently extend to OOD data. Finally, we argue that a trade-off between generalization and OOD capabilities might render the application of BNNs for OOD detection undesirable in practice. Overall, our study discloses fundamental problems when naively using BNNs for OOD detection and opens interesting avenues for future research.


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