What is the difference between “SAME” and “VALID” padding in tf.nn.max_pool of tensorflow?


What is the difference between "SAME" and "VALID" padding in tf.nn.max_pool of tensorflow?

In my opinion, "VALID" means there will be no zero padding outside the edges when we do max pool.

According to A guide to convolution arithmetic for deep learning, it says that there will be no padding in pool operator, i.e. just use "VALID" of tensorflow. But what is "SAME" padding of max pool in tensorflow?

Answer rating: 698

If you like ascii art:

  • "VALID" = without padding:

       inputs:         1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 11 (12 13)
                      |________________|                dropped
  • "SAME" = with zero padding:

                   pad|                                      |pad
       inputs:      0 |1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 11 12 13|0  0

In this example:

  • Input width = 13
  • Filter width = 6
  • Stride = 5


  • "VALID" only ever drops the right-most columns (or bottom-most rows).
  • "SAME" tries to pad evenly left and right, but if the amount of columns to be added is odd, it will add the extra column to the right, as is the case in this example (the same logic applies vertically: there may be an extra row of zeros at the bottom).


About the name:

  • With "SAME" padding, if you use a stride of 1, the layer"s outputs will have the same spatial dimensions as its inputs.
  • With "VALID" padding, there"s no "made-up" padding inputs. The layer only uses valid input data.

Answer rating: 187

When stride is 1 (more typical with convolution than pooling), we can think of the following distinction:

  • "SAME": output size is the same as input size. This requires the filter window to slip outside input map, hence the need to pad.
  • "VALID": Filter window stays at valid position inside input map, so output size shrinks by filter_size - 1. No padding occurs.

Answer rating: 179

I"ll give an example to make it clearer:

  • x: input image of shape [2, 3], 1 channel
  • valid_pad: max pool with 2x2 kernel, stride 2 and VALID padding.
  • same_pad: max pool with 2x2 kernel, stride 2 and SAME padding (this is the classic way to go)

The output shapes are:

  • valid_pad: here, no padding so the output shape is [1, 1]
  • same_pad: here, we pad the image to the shape [2, 4] (with -inf and then apply max pool), so the output shape is [1, 2]

x = tf.constant([[1., 2., 3.],
                 [4., 5., 6.]])

x = tf.reshape(x, [1, 2, 3, 1])  # give a shape accepted by tf.nn.max_pool

valid_pad = tf.nn.max_pool(x, [1, 2, 2, 1], [1, 2, 2, 1], padding="VALID")
same_pad = tf.nn.max_pool(x, [1, 2, 2, 1], [1, 2, 2, 1], padding="SAME")

valid_pad.get_shape() == [1, 1, 1, 1]  # valid_pad is [5.]
same_pad.get_shape() == [1, 1, 2, 1]   # same_pad is  [5., 6.]

Answer rating: 97

The TensorFlow Convolution example gives an overview about the difference between SAME and VALID :

  • For the SAME padding, the output height and width are computed as:

    out_height = ceil(float(in_height) / float(strides[1]))
    out_width  = ceil(float(in_width) / float(strides[2]))


  • For the VALID padding, the output height and width are computed as:

    out_height = ceil(float(in_height - filter_height + 1) / float(strides[1]))
    out_width  = ceil(float(in_width - filter_width + 1) / float(strides[2]))

Answer rating: 57

Padding is an operation to increase the size of the input data. In case of 1-dimensional data you just append/prepend the array with a constant, in 2-dim you surround matrix with these constants. In n-dim you surround your n-dim hypercube with the constant. In most of the cases this constant is zero and it is called zero-padding.

Here is an example of zero-padding with p=1 applied to 2-d tensor: enter image description here

You can use arbitrary padding for your kernel but some of the padding values are used more frequently than others they are:

  • VALID padding. The easiest case, means no padding at all. Just leave your data the same it was.
  • SAME padding sometimes called HALF padding. It is called SAME because for a convolution with a stride=1, (or for pooling) it should produce output of the same size as the input. It is called HALF because for a kernel of size k enter image description here
  • FULL padding is the maximum padding which does not result in a convolution over just padded elements. For a kernel of size k, this padding is equal to k - 1.

To use arbitrary padding in TF, you can use tf.pad()