Generating the Ground Truth: Synthetic Data for Label Noise Research

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Generating the Ground Truth: Synthetic Data for Label Noise Research


Sjoerd de Vries, Dirk Thierens


Most real-world classification tasks suffer from label noise to some extent. Such noise in the data adversely affects the generalization error of learned models and complicates the evaluation of noise-handling methods, as their performance cannot be accurately measured without clean labels. In label noise research, typically either noisy or incomplex simulated data are accepted as a baseline, into which additional noise with known properties is injected. In this paper, we propose SYNLABEL, a framework that aims to improve upon the aforementioned methodologies. It allows for creating a noiseless dataset informed by real data, by either pre-specifying or learning a function and defining it as the ground truth function from which labels are generated. Furthermore, by resampling a number of values for selected features in the function domain, evaluating the function and aggregating the resulting labels, each data point can be assigned a soft label or label distribution. Such distributions allow for direct injection and quantification of label noise. The generated datasets serve as a clean baseline of adjustable complexity into which different types of noise may be introduced. We illustrate how the framework can be applied, how it enables quantification of label noise and how it improves over existing methodologies.

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