Fake It Till You Make It: Learning Transferable Representations From Synthetic ImageNet Clones

Mert Bülent Sarıyıldız · Karteek Alahari · Diane Larlus · Yannis Kalantidis

West Building Exhibit Halls ABC 372


Recent image generation models such as Stable Diffusion have exhibited an impressive ability to generate fairly realistic images starting from a simple text prompt. Could such models render real images obsolete for training image prediction models? In this paper, we answer part of this provocative question by investigating the need for real images when training models for ImageNet classification. Provided only with the class names that have been used to build the dataset, we explore the ability of Stable Diffusion to generate synthetic clones of ImageNet and measure how useful these are for training classification models from scratch. We show that with minimal and class-agnostic prompt engineering, ImageNet clones are able to close a large part of the gap between models produced by synthetic images and models trained with real images, for the several standard classification benchmarks that we consider in this study. More importantly, we show that models trained on synthetic images exhibit strong generalization properties and perform on par with models trained on real data for transfer. Project page:

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