Robustness to Spurious Correlations Improves Semantic Out-of-Distribution Detection

Lily H. Zhang, Rajesh Ranganath

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Methods which utilize the outputs or feature representations of predictive models have emerged as promising approaches for out-of-distribution (OOD) detection of image inputs. However, these methods struggle to detect OOD inputs that share nuisance values (e.g. background) with in-distribution inputs. The detection of shared-nuisance out-of-distribution (SN-OOD) inputs is particularly relevant in real-world applications, as anomalies and in-distribution inputs tend to be captured in the same settings during deployment. In this work, we provide a possible explanation for SN-OOD detection failures and propose nuisance-aware OOD detection to address them. Nuisance-aware OOD detection substitutes a classifier trained via Empirical Risk Minimization (ERM) and cross-entropy loss with one that 1. is trained under a distribution where the nuisance-label relationship is broken and 2. yields representations that are independent of the nuisance under this distribution, both marginally and conditioned on the label. We can train a classifier to achieve these objectives using Nuisance-Randomized Distillation (NURD), an algorithm developed for OOD generalization under spurious correlations. Output- and feature-based nuisance-aware OOD detection perform substantially better than their original counterparts, succeeding even when detection based on domain generalization algorithms fails to improve performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAAAI-23 Special Tracks
EditorsBrian Williams, Yiling Chen, Jennifer Neville
PublisherAAAI press
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781577358800
StatePublished - Jun 27 2023
Event37th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, AAAI 2023 - Washington, United States
Duration: Feb 7 2023Feb 14 2023

Publication series

NameProceedings of the 37th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, AAAI 2023


Conference37th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, AAAI 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence


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