Cold Case: the Lost MNIST Digits

Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS)


Although the popular MNIST dataset [LeCun et al., 1994] is derived from the NIST database [Grother and Hanaoka, 1995], the precise processing steps for this derivation have been lost to time. We propose a reconstruction that is accurate enough to serve as a replacement for the MNIST dataset, with insignificant changes in accuracy. We trace each MNIST digit to its NIST source and its rich metadata such as writer identifier, partition identifier, etc. We also reconstruct the complete MNIST test set with 60,000 samples instead of the usual 10,000. Since the balance 50,000 were never distributed, they can be used to investigate the impact of twenty-five years of MNIST experiments on the reported testing performances. Our limited results unambiguously confirm the trends observed by Recht et al. [2018, 2019]: although the misclassification rates are slightly off, classifier ordering and model selection remain broadly reliable. We attribute this phenomenon to the pairing benefits of comparing classifiers on the same digits.

Related Publications

All Publications

EMNLP - October 31, 2021

Evaluation Paradigms in Question Answering

Pedro Rodriguez, Jordan Boyd-Graber

ASRU - December 13, 2021

Incorporating Real-world Noisy Speech in Neural-network-based Speech Enhancement Systems

Yangyang Xia, Buye Xu, Anurag Kumar

Uncertainty and Robustness in Deep Learning Workshop at ICML - June 24, 2021

DAIR: Data Augmented Invariant Regularization

Tianjian Huang, Chinnadhurai Sankar, Pooyan Amini, Satwik Kottur, Alborz Geramifard, Meisam Razaviyayn, Ahmad Beirami

IROS - September 1, 2021

Success Weighted by Completion Time: A Dynamics-Aware Evaluation Criteria for Embodied Navigation

Naoki Yokoyama, Sehoon Ha, Dhruv Batra

To help personalize content, tailor and measure ads, and provide a safer experience, we use cookies. By clicking or navigating the site, you agree to allow our collection of information on and off Facebook through cookies. Learn more, including about available controls: Cookies Policy