SciPost Submission Page

Per-Object Systematics using Deep-Learned Calibration

by Gregor Kasieczka, Michel Luchmann, Florian Otterpohl, Tilman Plehn

Submission summary

As Contributors: Michel Luchmann · Tilman Plehn
Arxiv Link: (pdf)
Date submitted: 2020-04-20
Submitted by: Luchmann, Michel
Submitted to: SciPost Physics
Discipline: Physics
Subject area: High-Energy Physics - Phenomenology
Approach: Phenomenological


We show how to treat systematic uncertainties using Bayesian deep networks for regression. First, we analyze how these networks separately trace statistical and systematic uncertainties on the momenta of boosted top quarks forming fat jets. Next, we propose a novel calibration procedure by training on labels and their error bars. Again, the network cleanly separates the different uncertainties. As a technical side effect, we show how Bayesian networks can be extended to describe non-Gaussian features.

Current status:
Editor-in-charge assigned

Reports on this Submission

Anonymous Report 2 on 2020-6-15 Invited Report


1- Reformulation of extraction of uncertainties as a regression task in a ML application


1- Motivation is not entirely satisfying within the paper

2- Not written in a way to be self-contained

3- Ultimately an application of a statistical technique to physics, but unclear what physics one learns from it


The article "Per-Object Systematics using Deep-Learned Calibration" explores the use of Bayesian analysis to a regression problem for extracting uncertainties in particle physics measurements. This paper is topical, as a significant fraction of particle physics papers are now related to machine learning methods, and ultimately the results are interesting. However, I feel that it suffers from issues similar to many other papers on machine learning in particle physics. Foremost, the paper discusses a statistical technique that happens to be applied to particle physics. While this technique enables extraction of uncertainties that are important for any analysis, it is not clear what "physics" is learned along the way. For publication in a physics journal, it is not sufficient that a technique just happen to be applied to particle physics (simulated) data. The authors should frame the paper in the introduction and conclusion around direct physics results, that happen to use a statistical technique.

This would also improve the readability of the paper. The authors state that this paper is a continuation of their reference [28], but those results aren't really reviewed or placed in context in the current paper. Just from this paper alone, it's not entirely clear what the weaknesses or shortcomings of their earlier work was. Perhaps that's not relevant for this paper, but it could be placed in context better for the reader who is less familiar with all of the literature.

Requested changes

1- At the end of the first paragraph, the authors state that "By now we can consider top jet classification at the level of tagging performance as essentially solved [26,27], giving us room to consider other open question in machine learning and jet physics." I do not know what the authors mean by "essentially solved". While ML techniques have demonstrated good discrimination power in the problem of top tagging, this does not mean that it is a "solved problem". In particular, it is still unknown what physics or properties of jets is responsible for this discrimination power. Again, just demonstrating discrimination with a statistical technique is not physics. The authors should re-phrase this sentence, eliminating the implication that top tagging is "solved".

2- I was a bit unclear about what the object C is in section 2. C is the output of the machine, which is some vector function of the inputs, right? If this is true, then I do not understand equation 8 in which a number (<pT>) is subtracted from C. If C is not a vector, then the authors need to state what it is clearly.

3- Further, in Eq. 8, I think the signs on the right side of the equation are incorrect. As a normalizable Gaussian, everything on the right of the equation should be negated.

4- At the end of the first paragraph on page 8, the authors state that they could control ISR by "pre-processing and pruning step." I think the authors mean more general "grooming" and not "pruning" here, because "pruning" is a specific contamination-removal technique. If the authors do mean pruning, then they should add a reference to the original literature on pruning.

5- The caption of Table 1 is awkward. The first-person singular is used; however, the author list is multiple people. This caption should either be re-written in passive voice or use first person plural (i.e., we).

  • validity: good
  • significance: ok
  • originality: ok
  • clarity: ok
  • formatting: good
  • grammar: good

Anonymous Report 1 on 2020-6-11 Invited Report


This paper addresses an important and pressing issue in machine learning applications to particle physics: quantifying and propagating the uncertainties in neural network predictions.


Seems like it was hastily written, many parts are unclear and sketchy, especially section 2 which contains the main idea!

There are also countless typos throughout the paper, some of which significantly affect the meaning of the paper. For example on p 13 it is written "the p_{T,t}^truth distribution is all but Gaussian" but I think they meant it is "anything but Gaussian" or "not at all Gaussian".


Section 2 was basically so unclear that it prevented me from understanding the results in the rest of the paper. I would ask for a complete rewrite of section 2 with an emphasis on clarity before I can proceed to judge the remainder of the paper.

Requested changes

Specific critiques of section 2:

- What is C?? As far as I can tell it is never explicitly defined. I thought it must be the truth label but at the beginning of section 2 it is called "an output" of the BNN which then confused me greatly.

- What is the total loss function for the BNN? Is it just the L_{KL} or is there more?

-Why don't I see the truth label p^{truth}_{T,t} appear anywhere in the loss function?

- Does the loss function for the BNN reduce to the usual mean-squared-error for regression tasks in some limit? If so how?

- Related comment, the second term in eq (9) seems to have something resembling the usual MSE loss but it has the opposite sign.

- Eq (3) made me think that <pT>_omega was a derived quantity but then eq (10) tells me it's an output of the NN? Is the final layer of the NN performing the integration over pT? Similarly for sigma_{stoch,omega}.

- Is the loss (9) bounded from below? It comes from the KL divergence which is always nonnegative so I imagine it must be. However, it's not obvious from the form of eq (9). For example, why wouldn't the network choose <pT>_omega very different from C and sigma_{stoch}->0 to make the second term of (9) arbitrarily negative?

- More generally, can the authors provide more intuition as to the tradeoffs and tensions inherent in the loss function (9)? For example, what prevents the NN from simply choosing q(omega)=p(omega)?

  • validity: -
  • significance: -
  • originality: -
  • clarity: poor
  • formatting: -
  • grammar: -

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