Back to all publications...

On Pitfalls in OoD Detection: Entropy Considered Harmful

Entropy of a predictive distribution averaged over an ensemble or several posterior weight samples is often used as a metric for Out-of-Distribution (OoD) detection. However, we show that predictive entropy is inappropriate for this task because it mistakes ambiguous in-distribution samples as OoD. This issue remains hidden on curated datasets commonly used for benchmarking. We introduce a new dataset, Dirty-MNIST, with a long tail of ambiguous samples, which exemplifies this problem. Additionally, we look at the entropy of single, deterministic, softmax models and show that it is unreliable exactly for OoD samples. In summary, we caution against using predictive or softmax entropy for OoD detection in practice and introduce several methods to evaluate the quantitative difference between several uncertainty metrics.

Andreas Kirsch, Jishnu Mukhoti, Joost van Amersfoort, Philip H.S. Torr, Yarin Gal
Uncertainty & Robustness in Deep Learning Workshop, ICML, 2021
[Paper] [BibTex] [Poster]

Are you looking to do a PhD in machine learning? Did you do a PhD in another field and want to do a postdoc in machine learning? Would you like to visit the group?

How to apply


We are located at
Department of Computer Science, University of Oxford
Wolfson Building
Parks Road
Twitter: @OATML_Oxford
Github: OATML