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Semantic Bottlenecks: Quantifying and Improving Inspectability of Deep Representations

journal contribution
posted on 2023-11-29, 18:06 authored by Max Losch, Mario FritzMario Fritz, Bernt Schiele
Today’s deep learning systems deliver high performance based on end-to-end training but are notoriously hard to inspect. We argue that there are at least two reasons making inspectability challenging: (i) representations are distributed across hundreds of channels and (ii) a unifying metric quantifying inspectability is lacking. In this paper, we address both issues by proposing Semantic Bottlenecks (SB), which can be integrated into pretrained networks, to align channel outputs with individual visual concepts and introduce the model agnostic Area Under inspectability Curve (AUiC) metric to measure the alignment. We present a case study on semantic segmentation to demonstrate that SBs improve the AUiC up to six-fold over regular network outputs. We explore two types of SB-layers in this work. First, concept-supervised SB-layers (SSB), which offer inspectability w.r.t. predefined concepts that the model is demanded to rely on. And second, unsupervised SBs (USB), which offer equally strong AUiC improvements by restricting distributedness of representations across channels. Importantly, for both SB types, we can recover state of the art segmentation performance across two different models despite a drastic dimensionality reduction from 1000s of non aligned channels to 10s of semantics-aligned channels that all downstream results are based on.


Preferred Citation

Max Losch, Mario Fritz and Bernt Schiele. Semantic Bottlenecks: Quantifying and Improving Inspectability of Deep Representations. In: International Journal of Computer Vision (IJCV). 2021.

Primary Research Area

  • Trustworthy Information Processing

Legacy Posted Date



International Journal of Computer Vision (IJCV)

Open Access Type

  • Gold

Sub Type

  • Article


@article{cispa_all_3484, title = "Semantic Bottlenecks: Quantifying and Improving Inspectability of Deep Representations", author = "Losch, Max and Fritz, Mario and Schiele, Bernt", journal="{International Journal of Computer Vision (IJCV)}", year="2021", }

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