A walk in the black-box: 3D visualization of large neural networks in virtual reality

Christoph Linse*, Hammam Alshazly, Thomas Martinetz

*Corresponding author for this work


Within the last decade Deep Learning has become a tool for solving challenging problems like image recognition. Still, Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) are considered black-boxes, which are difficult to understand by humans. Hence, there is an urge to visualize CNN architectures, their internal processes and what they actually learn. Previously, virtual realityhas been successfully applied to display small CNNs in immersive 3D environments. In this work, we address the problem how to feasibly render large-scale CNNs, thereby enabling the visualization of popular architectures with ten thousands of feature maps and branches in the computational graph in 3D. Our software ”DeepVisionVR” enables the user to freely walk through the layered network, pick up and place images, move/scale layers for better readability, perform feature visualization and export the results. We also provide a novel Pytorch module to dynamically link PyTorch with Unity, which gives developers and researchers a convenient interface to visualize their own architectures. The visualization is directly created from the PyTorch class that defines the Pytorch model used for training and testing. This approach allows full access to the network’s internals and direct control over what exactly is visualized. In a use-case study, we apply the module to analyze models with different generalization abilities in order to understand how networks memorize images. We train two recent architectures, CovidResNet and CovidDenseNet on the Caltech101 and the SARS-CoV-2 datasets and find that bad generalization is driven by high-frequency features and the susceptibility to specific pixel arrangements, leading to implications for the practical application of CNNs. The code is available on Github https://github.com/Criscraft/DeepVisionVR.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeural Computing and Applications
Issue number23
Pages (from-to)21237-21252
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 12.2022

Research Areas and Centers

  • Centers: Center for Artificial Intelligence Luebeck (ZKIL)
  • Research Area: Intelligent Systems


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