Google Research

A Unifying Review of Deep and Shallow Anomaly Detection

  • Lukas Ruff
  • Jacob Reinhard Kauffmann
  • Robert Vandermeulen
  • Gregoire Montavon
  • Wojciech Samek
  • Marius Kloft
  • Thomas G. Dietterich
  • Klaus-Robert Müller
Proc of the IEEE, vol. 109(5) (2021), pp. 756-795 (to appear)


Deep learning approaches to anomaly detection have recently improved the state of the art in detection performance on complex datasets such as large collections of images or text. These results have sparked a renewed interest in the anomaly detection problem and led to the introduction of a great variety of new methods. With the emergence of numerous such methods that include approaches based on generative models, one-class classification, and reconstruction, there is a growing need to bring methods of this field into a systematic and unified perspective. In this review, we therefore aim to identify the common underlying principles as well as the assumptions that are often made implicitly by various methods. In particular, we draw connections between classic ‘shallow’ and novel deep approaches and show how they exactly relate and moreover how this relation might cross-fertilize or extend both directions. We further provide an empirical assessment of major existing methods that is enriched by the use of recent explainability techniques, and present specific worked-through examples together with practical advice. Finally, we outline critical open challenges and identify specific paths for future research in anomaly detection.

Research Areas

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