In this work, we revisit atrous convolution, a powerful tool to explicitly adjust filter's field-of-view as well as control the resolution of feature responses computed by Deep Convolutional Neural Networks, in the application of semantic image segmentation. To handle the problem of segmenting objects at multiple scales, we design modules which employ atrous convolution in cascade or in parallel to capture multi-scale context by adopting multiple atrous rates. Furthermore, we propose to augment our previously proposed Atrous Spatial Pyramid Pooling module, which probes convolutional features at multiple scales, with image-level features encoding global context and further boost performance. We also elaborate on implementation details and share our experience on training our system. The proposed `DeepLabv3' system significantly improves over our previous DeepLab versions without DenseCRF post-processing and attains comparable performance with other state-of-art models on the PASCAL VOC 2012 semantic image segmentation benchmark.

* Add more experimental results
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Parsing articulated objects, e.g. humans and animals, into semantic parts (e.g. body, head and arms, etc.) from natural images is a challenging and fundamental problem for computer vision. A big difficulty is the large variability of scale and location for objects and their corresponding parts. Even limited mistakes in estimating scale and location will degrade the parsing output and cause errors in boundary details. To tackle these difficulties, we propose a "Hierarchical Auto-Zoom Net" (HAZN) for object part parsing which adapts to the local scales of objects and parts. HAZN is a sequence of two "Auto-Zoom Net" (AZNs), each employing fully convolutional networks that perform two tasks: (1) predict the locations and scales of object instances (the first AZN) or their parts (the second AZN); (2) estimate the part scores for predicted object instance or part regions. Our model can adaptively "zoom" (resize) predicted image regions into their proper scales to refine the parsing. We conduct extensive experiments over the PASCAL part datasets on humans, horses, and cows. For humans, our approach significantly outperforms the state-of-the-arts by 5% mIOU and is especially better at segmenting small instances and small parts. We obtain similar improvements for parsing cows and horses over alternative methods. In summary, our strategy of first zooming into objects and then zooming into parts is very effective. It also enables us to process different regions of the image at different scales adaptively so that, for example, we do not need to waste computational resources scaling the entire image.

* A shortened version has been submitted to ECCV 2016
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Deep convolutional neural networks (DCNNs) trained on a large number of images with strong pixel-level annotations have recently significantly pushed the state-of-art in semantic image segmentation. We study the more challenging problem of learning DCNNs for semantic image segmentation from either (1) weakly annotated training data such as bounding boxes or image-level labels or (2) a combination of few strongly labeled and many weakly labeled images, sourced from one or multiple datasets. We develop Expectation-Maximization (EM) methods for semantic image segmentation model training under these weakly supervised and semi-supervised settings. Extensive experimental evaluation shows that the proposed techniques can learn models delivering competitive results on the challenging PASCAL VOC 2012 image segmentation benchmark, while requiring significantly less annotation effort. We share source code implementing the proposed system at https://bitbucket.org/deeplab/deeplab-public.

* Accepted to ICCV 2015
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Spatial pyramid pooling module or encode-decoder structure are used in deep neural networks for semantic segmentation task. The former networks are able to encode multi-scale contextual information by probing the incoming features with filters or pooling operations at multiple rates and multiple effective fields-of-view, while the latter networks can capture sharper object boundaries by gradually recovering the spatial information. In this work, we propose to combine the advantages from both methods. Specifically, our proposed model, DeepLabv3+, extends DeepLabv3 by adding a simple yet effective decoder module to refine the segmentation results especially along object boundaries. We further explore the Xception model and apply the depthwise separable convolution to both Atrous Spatial Pyramid Pooling and decoder modules, resulting in a faster and stronger encoder-decoder network. We demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed model on PASCAL VOC 2012 and Cityscapes datasets, achieving the test set performance of 89.0\% and 82.1\% without any post-processing. Our paper is accompanied with a publicly available reference implementation of the proposed models in Tensorflow at \url{https://github.com/tensorflow/models/tree/master/research/deeplab}.

* ECCV 2018 camera ready
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In this paper we describe a new mobile architecture, MobileNetV2, that improves the state of the art performance of mobile models on multiple tasks and benchmarks as well as across a spectrum of different model sizes. We also describe efficient ways of applying these mobile models to object detection in a novel framework we call SSDLite. Additionally, we demonstrate how to build mobile semantic segmentation models through a reduced form of DeepLabv3 which we call Mobile DeepLabv3. The MobileNetV2 architecture is based on an inverted residual structure where the input and output of the residual block are thin bottleneck layers opposite to traditional residual models which use expanded representations in the input an MobileNetV2 uses lightweight depthwise convolutions to filter features in the intermediate expansion layer. Additionally, we find that it is important to remove non-linearities in the narrow layers in order to maintain representational power. We demonstrate that this improves performance and provide an intuition that led to this design. Finally, our approach allows decoupling of the input/output domains from the expressiveness of the transformation, which provides a convenient framework for further analysis. We measure our performance on Imagenet classification, COCO object detection, VOC image segmentation. We evaluate the trade-offs between accuracy, and number of operations measured by multiply-adds (MAdd), as well as the number of parameters

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Many problems in real-world applications involve predicting several random variables which are statistically related. Markov random fields (MRFs) are a great mathematical tool to encode such relationships. The goal of this paper is to combine MRFs with deep learning algorithms to estimate complex representations while taking into account the dependencies between the output random variables. Towards this goal, we propose a training algorithm that is able to learn structured models jointly with deep features that form the MRF potentials. Our approach is efficient as it blends learning and inference and makes use of GPU acceleration. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our algorithm in the tasks of predicting words from noisy images, as well as multi-class classification of Flickr photographs. We show that joint learning of the deep features and the MRF parameters results in significant performance gains.

* 11 pages including reference
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In this work we address the task of semantic image segmentation with Deep Learning and make three main contributions that are experimentally shown to have substantial practical merit. First, we highlight convolution with upsampled filters, or 'atrous convolution', as a powerful tool in dense prediction tasks. Atrous convolution allows us to explicitly control the resolution at which feature responses are computed within Deep Convolutional Neural Networks. It also allows us to effectively enlarge the field of view of filters to incorporate larger context without increasing the number of parameters or the amount of computation. Second, we propose atrous spatial pyramid pooling (ASPP) to robustly segment objects at multiple scales. ASPP probes an incoming convolutional feature layer with filters at multiple sampling rates and effective fields-of-views, thus capturing objects as well as image context at multiple scales. Third, we improve the localization of object boundaries by combining methods from DCNNs and probabilistic graphical models. The commonly deployed combination of max-pooling and downsampling in DCNNs achieves invariance but has a toll on localization accuracy. We overcome this by combining the responses at the final DCNN layer with a fully connected Conditional Random Field (CRF), which is shown both qualitatively and quantitatively to improve localization performance. Our proposed "DeepLab" system sets the new state-of-art at the PASCAL VOC-2012 semantic image segmentation task, reaching 79.7% mIOU in the test set, and advances the results on three other datasets: PASCAL-Context, PASCAL-Person-Part, and Cityscapes. All of our code is made publicly available online.

* Accepted by TPAMI
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Deep Convolutional Neural Networks (DCNNs) have recently shown state of the art performance in high level vision tasks, such as image classification and object detection. This work brings together methods from DCNNs and probabilistic graphical models for addressing the task of pixel-level classification (also called "semantic image segmentation"). We show that responses at the final layer of DCNNs are not sufficiently localized for accurate object segmentation. This is due to the very invariance properties that make DCNNs good for high level tasks. We overcome this poor localization property of deep networks by combining the responses at the final DCNN layer with a fully connected Conditional Random Field (CRF). Qualitatively, our "DeepLab" system is able to localize segment boundaries at a level of accuracy which is beyond previous methods. Quantitatively, our method sets the new state-of-art at the PASCAL VOC-2012 semantic image segmentation task, reaching 71.6% IOU accuracy in the test set. We show how these results can be obtained efficiently: Careful network re-purposing and a novel application of the 'hole' algorithm from the wavelet community allow dense computation of neural net responses at 8 frames per second on a modern GPU.

* 14 pages. Updated related work
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Incorporating multi-scale features in fully convolutional neural networks (FCNs) has been a key element to achieving state-of-the-art performance on semantic image segmentation. One common way to extract multi-scale features is to feed multiple resized input images to a shared deep network and then merge the resulting features for pixelwise classification. In this work, we propose an attention mechanism that learns to softly weight the multi-scale features at each pixel location. We adapt a state-of-the-art semantic image segmentation model, which we jointly train with multi-scale input images and the attention model. The proposed attention model not only outperforms average- and max-pooling, but allows us to diagnostically visualize the importance of features at different positions and scales. Moreover, we show that adding extra supervision to the output at each scale is essential to achieving excellent performance when merging multi-scale features. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our model with extensive experiments on three challenging datasets, including PASCAL-Person-Part, PASCAL VOC 2012 and a subset of MS-COCO 2014.

* 14 pages. Accepted to appear at CVPR 2016
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We propose a novel attention based deep learning architecture for visual question answering task (VQA). Given an image and an image related natural language question, VQA generates the natural language answer for the question. Generating the correct answers requires the model's attention to focus on the regions corresponding to the question, because different questions inquire about the attributes of different image regions. We introduce an attention based configurable convolutional neural network (ABC-CNN) to learn such question-guided attention. ABC-CNN determines an attention map for an image-question pair by convolving the image feature map with configurable convolutional kernels derived from the question's semantics. We evaluate the ABC-CNN architecture on three benchmark VQA datasets: Toronto COCO-QA, DAQUAR, and VQA dataset. ABC-CNN model achieves significant improvements over state-of-the-art methods on these datasets. The question-guided attention generated by ABC-CNN is also shown to reflect the regions that are highly relevant to the questions.

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We present a box-free bottom-up approach for the tasks of pose estimation and instance segmentation of people in multi-person images using an efficient single-shot model. The proposed PersonLab model tackles both semantic-level reasoning and object-part associations using part-based modeling. Our model employs a convolutional network which learns to detect individual keypoints and predict their relative displacements, allowing us to group keypoints into person pose instances. Further, we propose a part-induced geometric embedding descriptor which allows us to associate semantic person pixels with their corresponding person instance, delivering instance-level person segmentations. Our system is based on a fully-convolutional architecture and allows for efficient inference, with runtime essentially independent of the number of people present in the scene. Trained on COCO data alone, our system achieves COCO test-dev keypoint average precision of 0.665 using single-scale inference and 0.687 using multi-scale inference, significantly outperforming all previous bottom-up pose estimation systems. We are also the first bottom-up method to report competitive results for the person class in the COCO instance segmentation task, achieving a person category average precision of 0.417.

* Person detection and pose estimation, segmentation and grouping
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In this work, we tackle the problem of instance segmentation, the task of simultaneously solving object detection and semantic segmentation. Towards this goal, we present a model, called MaskLab, which produces three outputs: box detection, semantic segmentation, and direction prediction. Building on top of the Faster-RCNN object detector, the predicted boxes provide accurate localization of object instances. Within each region of interest, MaskLab performs foreground/background segmentation by combining semantic and direction prediction. Semantic segmentation assists the model in distinguishing between objects of different semantic classes including background, while the direction prediction, estimating each pixel's direction towards its corresponding center, allows separating instances of the same semantic class. Moreover, we explore the effect of incorporating recent successful methods from both segmentation and detection (i.e. atrous convolution and hypercolumn). Our proposed model is evaluated on the COCO instance segmentation benchmark and shows comparable performance with other state-of-art models.

* 10 pages including reference
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Deep convolutional neural networks (CNNs) are the backbone of state-of-art semantic image segmentation systems. Recent work has shown that complementing CNNs with fully-connected conditional random fields (CRFs) can significantly enhance their object localization accuracy, yet dense CRF inference is computationally expensive. We propose replacing the fully-connected CRF with domain transform (DT), a modern edge-preserving filtering method in which the amount of smoothing is controlled by a reference edge map. Domain transform filtering is several times faster than dense CRF inference and we show that it yields comparable semantic segmentation results, accurately capturing object boundaries. Importantly, our formulation allows learning the reference edge map from intermediate CNN features instead of using the image gradient magnitude as in standard DT filtering. This produces task-specific edges in an end-to-end trainable system optimizing the target semantic segmentation quality.

* 14 pages. Accepted to appear at CVPR 2016
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Many machine vision applications require predictions for every pixel of the input image (for example semantic segmentation, boundary detection). Models for such problems usually consist of encoders which decreases spatial resolution while learning a high-dimensional representation, followed by decoders who recover the original input resolution and result in low-dimensional predictions. While encoders have been studied rigorously, relatively few studies address the decoder side. Therefore this paper presents an extensive comparison of a variety of decoders for a variety of pixel-wise prediction tasks. Our contributions are: (1) Decoders matter: we observe significant variance in results between different types of decoders on various problems. (2) We introduce a novel decoder: bilinear additive upsampling. (3) We introduce new residual-like connections for decoders. (4) We identify two decoder types which give a consistently high performance.

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Recently, Neural Architecture Search (NAS) has successfully identified neural network architectures that exceed human designed ones on large-scale image classification problems. In this paper, we study NAS for semantic image segmentation, an important computer vision task that assigns a semantic label to every pixel in an image. Existing works often focus on searching the repeatable cell structure, while hand-designing the outer network structure that controls the spatial resolution changes. This choice simplifies the search space, but becomes increasingly problematic for dense image prediction which exhibits a lot more network level architectural variations. Therefore, we propose to search the network level structure in addition to the cell level structure, which forms a hierarchical architecture search space. We present a network level search space that includes many popular designs, and develop a formulation that allows efficient gradient-based architecture search (3 P100 GPU days on Cityscapes images). We demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed method on the challenging Cityscapes, PASCAL VOC 2012, and ADE20K datasets. Without any ImageNet pretraining, our architecture searched specifically for semantic image segmentation attains state-of-the-art performance.

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The design of neural network architectures is an important component for achieving state-of-the-art performance with machine learning systems across a broad array of tasks. Much work has endeavored to design and build architectures automatically through clever construction of a search space paired with simple learning algorithms. Recent progress has demonstrated that such meta-learning methods may exceed scalable human-invented architectures on image classification tasks. An open question is the degree to which such methods may generalize to new domains. In this work we explore the construction of meta-learning techniques for dense image prediction focused on the tasks of scene parsing, person-part segmentation, and semantic image segmentation. Constructing viable search spaces in this domain is challenging because of the multi-scale representation of visual information and the necessity to operate on high resolution imagery. Based on a survey of techniques in dense image prediction, we construct a recursive search space and demonstrate that even with efficient random search, we can identify architectures that outperform human-invented architectures and achieve state-of-the-art performance on three dense prediction tasks including 82.7\% on Cityscapes (street scene parsing), 71.3\% on PASCAL-Person-Part (person-part segmentation), and 87.9\% on PASCAL VOC 2012 (semantic image segmentation). Additionally, the resulting architecture is more computationally efficient, requiring half the parameters and half the computational cost as previous state of the art systems.

* Accepted by NIPS 2018
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We present a single-shot, bottom-up approach for whole image parsing. Whole image parsing, also known as Panoptic Segmentation, generalizes the tasks of semantic segmentation for 'stuff' classes and instance segmentation for 'thing' classes, assigning both semantic and instance labels to every pixel in an image. Recent approaches to whole image parsing typically employ separate standalone modules for the constituent semantic and instance segmentation tasks and require multiple passes of inference. Instead, the proposed DeeperLab image parser performs whole image parsing with a significantly simpler, fully convolutional approach that jointly addresses the semantic and instance segmentation tasks in a single-shot manner, resulting in a streamlined system that better lends itself to fast processing. For quantitative evaluation, we use both the instance-based Panoptic Quality (PQ) metric and the proposed region-based Parsing Covering (PC) metric, which better captures the image parsing quality on 'stuff' classes and larger object instances. We report experimental results on the challenging Mapillary Vistas dataset, in which our single model achieves 31.95% (val) / 31.6% PQ (test) and 55.26% PC (val) with 3 frames per second (fps) on GPU or near real-time speed (22.6 fps on GPU) with reduced accuracy.

* 12 pages
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