Unreproducible Research is Reproducible

Xavier Bouthillier, César Laurent, Pascal Vincent
Proceedings of the 36th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 97:725-734, 2019.

Abstract

The apparent contradiction in the title is a wordplay on the different meanings attributed to the word reproducible across different scientific fields. What we imply is that unreproducible findings can be built upon reproducible methods. Without denying the importance of facilitating the reproduction of methods, we deem important to reassert that reproduction of findings is a fundamental step of the scientific inquiry. We argue that the commendable quest towards easy deterministic reproducibility of methods and numerical results should not have us forget the even more important necessity of ensuring the reproducibility of empirical findings and conclusions by properly accounting for essential sources of variations. We provide experiments to exemplify the brittleness of current common practice in the evaluation of models in the field of deep learning, showing that even if the results could be reproduced, a slightly different experiment would not support the findings. We hope to help clarify the distinction between exploratory and empirical research in the field of deep learning and believe more energy should be devoted to proper empirical research in our community. This work is an attempt to promote the use of more rigorous and diversified methodologies. It is not an attempt to impose a new methodology and it is not a critique on the nature of exploratory research.

Cite this Paper


BibTeX
@InProceedings{pmlr-v97-bouthillier19a, title = {Unreproducible Research is Reproducible}, author = {Bouthillier, Xavier and Laurent, C{\'e}sar and Vincent, Pascal}, booktitle = {Proceedings of the 36th International Conference on Machine Learning}, pages = {725--734}, year = {2019}, editor = {Kamalika Chaudhuri and Ruslan Salakhutdinov}, volume = {97}, series = {Proceedings of Machine Learning Research}, month = {09--15 Jun}, publisher = {PMLR}, pdf = {http://proceedings.mlr.press/v97/bouthillier19a/bouthillier19a.pdf}, url = { http://proceedings.mlr.press/v97/bouthillier19a.html }, abstract = {The apparent contradiction in the title is a wordplay on the different meanings attributed to the word reproducible across different scientific fields. What we imply is that unreproducible findings can be built upon reproducible methods. Without denying the importance of facilitating the reproduction of methods, we deem important to reassert that reproduction of findings is a fundamental step of the scientific inquiry. We argue that the commendable quest towards easy deterministic reproducibility of methods and numerical results should not have us forget the even more important necessity of ensuring the reproducibility of empirical findings and conclusions by properly accounting for essential sources of variations. We provide experiments to exemplify the brittleness of current common practice in the evaluation of models in the field of deep learning, showing that even if the results could be reproduced, a slightly different experiment would not support the findings. We hope to help clarify the distinction between exploratory and empirical research in the field of deep learning and believe more energy should be devoted to proper empirical research in our community. This work is an attempt to promote the use of more rigorous and diversified methodologies. It is not an attempt to impose a new methodology and it is not a critique on the nature of exploratory research.} }
Endnote
%0 Conference Paper %T Unreproducible Research is Reproducible %A Xavier Bouthillier %A César Laurent %A Pascal Vincent %B Proceedings of the 36th International Conference on Machine Learning %C Proceedings of Machine Learning Research %D 2019 %E Kamalika Chaudhuri %E Ruslan Salakhutdinov %F pmlr-v97-bouthillier19a %I PMLR %P 725--734 %U http://proceedings.mlr.press/v97/bouthillier19a.html %V 97 %X The apparent contradiction in the title is a wordplay on the different meanings attributed to the word reproducible across different scientific fields. What we imply is that unreproducible findings can be built upon reproducible methods. Without denying the importance of facilitating the reproduction of methods, we deem important to reassert that reproduction of findings is a fundamental step of the scientific inquiry. We argue that the commendable quest towards easy deterministic reproducibility of methods and numerical results should not have us forget the even more important necessity of ensuring the reproducibility of empirical findings and conclusions by properly accounting for essential sources of variations. We provide experiments to exemplify the brittleness of current common practice in the evaluation of models in the field of deep learning, showing that even if the results could be reproduced, a slightly different experiment would not support the findings. We hope to help clarify the distinction between exploratory and empirical research in the field of deep learning and believe more energy should be devoted to proper empirical research in our community. This work is an attempt to promote the use of more rigorous and diversified methodologies. It is not an attempt to impose a new methodology and it is not a critique on the nature of exploratory research.
APA
Bouthillier, X., Laurent, C. & Vincent, P.. (2019). Unreproducible Research is Reproducible. Proceedings of the 36th International Conference on Machine Learning, in Proceedings of Machine Learning Research 97:725-734 Available from http://proceedings.mlr.press/v97/bouthillier19a.html .

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