Google Research

Characterising Bias in Compressed Models

  • Sara Hooker
  • Nyalleng Moorosi
  • Gregory Clark
  • Samy Bengio
  • Emily Denton


The popularity and widespread use of pruning and quantization is driven by the severe resource constraints of deploying deep neural networks to environments with strict latency, memory and energy requirements. These techniques achieve high levels of compression with negligible impact on top-line metrics (top-1 and top-5 accuracy). However, overall accuracy hides disproportionately high errors on a small subset of examples; we call this subset Compression Identified Exemplars (CIE). We further establish that for CIE examples, compression amplifies existing algorithmic bias. Pruning disproportionately impacts performance on underrepresented features, which often coincides with considerations of fairness. Given that CIE is a relatively small subset but a great contributor of error in the model, we propose its use as a human-in-the-loop auditing tool to surface a tractable subset of the dataset for further inspection or annotation by a domain expert. We provide qualitative and quantitative support that CIE surfaces the most challenging examples in the data distribution for human-in-the-loop auditing.

Learn more about how we do research

We maintain a portfolio of research projects, providing individuals and teams the freedom to emphasize specific types of work