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Guillermo Puebla, Jeffrey S. Bowers; Can deep convolutional neural networks support relational reasoning in the same-different task?. Journal of Vision 2022;22(10):11. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.22.10.11.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Same-different visual reasoning is a basic skill central to abstract combinatorial thought. This fact has lead neural networks researchers to test same-different classification on deep convolutional neural networks (DCNNs), which has resulted in a controversy regarding whether this skill is within the capacity of these models. However, most tests of same-different classification rely on testing on images that come from the same pixel-level distribution as the training images, yielding the results inconclusive. In this study, we tested relational same-different reasoning in DCNNs. In a series of simulations we show that models based on the ResNet architecture are capable of visual same-different classification, but only when the test images are similar to the training images at the pixel level. In contrast, when there is a shift in the testing distribution that does not change the relation between the objects in the image, the performance of DCNNs decreases substantially. This finding is true even when the DCNNs’ training regime is expanded to include images taken from a wide range of different pixel-level distributions or when the model is trained on the testing distribution but on a different task in a multitask learning context. Furthermore, we show that the relation network, a deep learning architecture specifically designed to tackle visual relational reasoning problems, suffers the same kind of limitations. Overall, the results of this study suggest that learning same-different relations is beyond the scope of current DCNNs.
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