How much progress in ML depends on algorithmic progress, scaling compute, or scaling relevant datasets is relatively poorly understood. In our paper, we make progress on this question by investigating algorithmic progress in image classification on ImageNet, perhaps the most well-known test bed for computer vision.

Using a dataset of a hundred computer vision models, we estimate a model—informed by neural scaling laws—that enables us to analyse the rate and nature of algorithmic advances. We use Shapley values to produce decompositions of the various drivers of progress computer vision and estimate the relative importance of algorithms, compute, and data.

Our main results include:

  • Every nine months, the introduction of better algorithms contributes the equivalent of a doubling of compute budgets. This is much faster than the gains from Moore’s law; that said, there’s uncertainty (our 95% CI spans 4 to 25 months)