Review — ImageNet-ReaL: Are we done with ImageNet?

Reassessed Labels (ReaL): New Labels for ImageNet

Sik-Ho Tsang
3 min readFeb 15, 2022
Human assessment of proposed labels

Are we done with ImageNet?
ImageNet-ReaL, by Google Brain (Zürich, CH), and DeepMind (London, UK)
2020 arXiv, Over 80 Citations (Sik-Ho Tsang @ Medium)
Image Classification, Image Dataset, ImageNet

  • “Has the community started to overfit to the idiosyncrasies of ImageNet labeling procedure?”
  • To answer this, authors develop a significantly more robust procedure for collecting human annotations of the ImageNet.
  • Now, except the original ImageNet, some papers also test their models on ImageNet-V2 set, and ImageNet-ReaL set, which is proposed in this paper.


  1. Problem and Relabeling of the ImageNet Set
  2. Experimental Results

1. Problem and Relabeling of the ImageNet

Example failures of the ImageNet labeling procedure

1.1. Single label per image (Top)

  • Real-world images often contain multiple objects of interest. ImageNet annotations are limited to assigning a single label to each image, which can lead to a gross underrepresentation of the content of an image.
  • This motivates re-annotating the ImageNet validation set in a way that captures the diversity of image content in real-world scenes.

1.2. Overly restrictive label proposals (Middle)

  • The ImageNet annotation pipeline consists of querying the internet for images of a given class, then asking human annotators whether that class is indeed present in the image. While this procedure yields reasonable descriptions of the image, it can also lead to inaccuracies.
  • Yet when considered together with other ImageNet classes, this description immediately appears less suitable (the “quill” is in fact a “feather boa”, the “passenger car” a “school bus”).
  • Based on this observation, authors seek to design a labeling procedure which allows human annotators to consider (and contrast) a wide variety of potential labels, so as to select the most accurate description(s).

1.3. Arbitrary Class Distinctions (Bottom)

  • ImageNet classes contain a handful of essentially duplicate pairs, which draw a distinction between semantically and visually indistinguishable groups of images.
  • For example, the original ImageNet labels distinguish “sunglasses” from “sunglass”, “laptop” from “notebook”, and “projectile, missile” from “missile”.
  • By allowing multiple annotations from simultaneously-presented label proposals, Authors seek to remove this ambiguity and arrive at a more meaningful metric of classification performance.

Relabeling and label cleaning is done to obtain ImageNet-ReaL set.

1.4. Relabeling

  • In brief, relabeling is first preliminary done by models. These models suggest a set of label proposals. Human annotators are then further label the image based on the proposals.
  • Since each image can contain more than one labels, a new metric is suggested called ReaL accuracy. It measures the precision of the model’s top-1 prediction, which is deemed correct if it is included in the set of labels, and incorrect otherwise.
  • Also, sigmoid loss is used instead of the softmax loss since sigmoid loss which does not enforce mutually exclusive predictions.

2. Experimental Results

Top-1 accuracy (in percentage) on ImageNet with the proposed sigmoid loss and clean label set
  • Training on clean ImageNet data consistently improves accuracy of the resulting model.
  • Changing the softmax loss to the sigmoid loss also results in consistent accuracy improvements across all ResNet architectures and training settings.
  • Combining clean data and sigmoid loss leads to further improvements.
ReaL accuracies of all models
  • Authors also evaluated other models for ReaL accuracies and original accuracy, as shown above.


[2020 arXiv] [ImageNet-ReaL]
Are we done with ImageNet?

Image Classification

1989–2019 … 2020: [Random Erasing (RE)] [SAOL] [AdderNet] [FixEfficientNet] [BiT] [RandAugment] [ImageNet-ReaL]
2021: [Learned Resizer] [Vision Transformer, ViT] [ResNet Strikes Back] [DeiT] [EfficientNetV2]

My Other Previous Paper Readings



Sik-Ho Tsang

PhD, Researcher. I share what I learn. :) Linktree: for Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.