High Fidelity Visualization of What Your Self-Supervised Representation Knows About

Journal of Transactions on Machine Learning Research (TMLR)


Discovering what is learned by neural networks remains a challenge. In self-supervised learning, classification is the most common task used to evaluate how good a representation is. However, relying only on such downstream task can limit our understanding of what information is retained in the representation of a given input. In this work, we showcase the use of a Representation Conditional Diffusion Model (RCDM) to visualize in data space the representations learned by self-supervised models. The use of RCDM is motivated by its ability to generate high-quality samples —on par with state-of-the-art generative models— while ensuring that the representations of those samples are faithful i.e. close to the one used for conditioning. By using RCDM to analyze self-supervised models, we are able to clearly show visually that i) SSL (backbone) representation are not invariant to the data augmentations they were trained with – thus debunking an often restated but mistaken belief; ii) SSL post-projector embeddings appear indeed invariant to these data augmentation, along with many other data symmetries; iii) SSL representations appear more robust to small adversarial perturbation of their inputs than representations trained in a supervised manner; and iv) that SSL-trained representations exhibit an inherent structure that can be explored thanks to RCDM visualization and enables image manipulation.

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