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Transformers in Vision: A Survey

Astounding results from transformer models on natural language tasks have intrigued the vision community to study their application to computer vision problems. This has led to exciting progress on a number of tasks while requiring minimal inductive biases in the model design. This survey aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the transformer models in the computer vision discipline and assumes little to no prior background in the field. We start with an introduction to fundamental concepts behind the success of transformer models i.e., self-supervision and self-attention. Transformer architectures leverage self-attention mechanisms to encode long-range dependencies in the input domain which makes them highly expressive. Since they assume minimal prior knowledge about the structure of the problem, self-supervision using pretext tasks is applied to pre-train transformer models on large-scale (unlabelled) datasets. The learned representations are then fine-tuned on the downstream tasks, typically leading to excellent performance due to the generalization and expressivity of encoded features. We cover extensive applications of transformers in vision including popular recognition tasks (e.g., image classification, object detection, action recognition, and segmentation), generative modeling, multi-modal tasks (e.g., visual-question answering and visual reasoning), video processing (e.g., activity recognition, video forecasting), low-level vision (e.g., image super-resolution and colorization) and 3D analysis (e.g., point cloud classification and segmentation). We compare the respective advantages and limitations of popular techniques both in terms of architectural design and their experimental value. Finally, we provide an analysis on open research directions and possible future works.

Synthesizing the Unseen for Zero-shot Object Detection

The existing zero-shot detection approaches project visual features to the semantic domain for seen objects, hoping to map unseen objects to their corresponding semantics during inference. However, since the unseen objects are never visualized during training, the detection model is skewed towards seen content, thereby labeling unseen as background or a seen class. In this work, we propose to synthesize visual features for unseen classes, so that the model learns both seen and unseen objects in the visual domain. Consequently, the major challenge becomes, how to accurately synthesize unseen objects merely using their class semantics? Towards this ambitious goal, we propose a novel generative model that uses class-semantics to not only generate the features but also to discriminatively separate them. Further, using a unified model, we ensure the synthesized features have high diversity that represents the intra-class differences and variable localization precision in the detected bounding boxes. We test our approach on three object detection benchmarks, PASCAL VOC, MSCOCO, and ILSVRC detection, under both conventional and generalized settings, showing impressive gains over the state-of-the-art methods.

Learning Enriched Features for Real Image Restoration and Enhancement

With the goal of recovering high-quality image content from its degraded version, image restoration enjoys numerous applications, such as in surveillance, computational photography, medical imaging, and remote sensing. Recently, convolutional neural networks (CNNs) have achieved dramatic improvements over conventional approaches for image restoration task. Existing CNN-based methods typically operate either on full-resolution or on progressively low-resolution representations. In the former case, spatially precise but contextually less robust results are achieved, while in the latter case, semantically reliable but spatially less accurate outputs are generated. In this paper, we present a novel architecture with the collective goals of maintaining spatially-precise high-resolution representations through the entire network and receiving strong contextual information from the low-resolution representations. The core of our approach is a multi-scale residual block containing several key elements (a) parallel multi-resolution convolution streams for extracting multi-scale features, (b) information exchange across the multi-resolution streams, (c) spatial and channel attention mechanisms for capturing contextual information, and (d) attention based multi-scale feature aggregation. In a nutshell, our approach learns an enriched set of features that combines contextual information from multiple scales, while simultaneously preserving the high-resolution spatial details. Extensive experiments on five real image benchmark datasets demonstrate that our method, named as MIRNet, achieves state-of-the-art results for a variety of image processing tasks, including image denoising, super-resolution, and image enhancement.

A Self-supervised Approach for Adversarial Robustness

Adversarial examples can cause catastrophic mistakes in Deep Neural Network (DNNs) based vision systems e.g., for classification, segmentation and object detection. The vulnerability of DNNs against such attacks can prove a major roadblock towards their real-world deployment. Transferability of adversarial examples demand generalizable defenses that can provide cross-task protection. Adversarial training that enhances robustness by modifying target model's parameters lacks such generalizability. On the other hand, different input processing based defenses fall short in the face of continuously evolving attacks. In this paper, we take the first step to combine the benefits of both approaches and propose a self-supervised adversarial training mechanism in the input space. By design, our defense is a generalizable approach and provides significant robustness against the unseen adversarial attacks (eg by reducing the success rate of translation-invariant ensemble attack from 82.6% to 31.9% in comparison to previous state-of-the-art). It can be deployed as a plug-and-play solution to protect a variety of vision systems, as we demonstrate for the case of classification, segmentation and detection.

CycleISP: Real Image Restoration via Improved Data Synthesis

The availability of large-scale datasets has helped unleash the true potential of deep convolutional neural networks (CNNs). However, for the single-image denoising problem, capturing a real dataset is an unacceptably expensive and cumbersome procedure. Consequently, image denoising algorithms are mostly developed and evaluated on synthetic data that is usually generated with a widespread assumption of additive white Gaussian noise (AWGN). While the CNNs achieve impressive results on these synthetic datasets, they do not perform well when applied on real camera images, as reported in recent benchmark datasets. This is mainly because the AWGN is not adequate for modeling the real camera noise which is signal-dependent and heavily transformed by the camera imaging pipeline. In this paper, we present a framework that models camera imaging pipeline in forward and reverse directions. It allows us to produce any number of realistic image pairs for denoising both in RAW and sRGB spaces. By training a new image denoising network on realistic synthetic data, we achieve the state-of-the-art performance on real camera benchmark datasets. The parameters in our model are ~5 times lesser than the previous best method for RAW denoising. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the proposed framework generalizes beyond image denoising problem e.g., for color matching in stereoscopic cinema.

iTAML: An Incremental Task-Agnostic Meta-learning Approach

Humans can continuously learn new knowledge as their experience grows. In contrast, previous learning in deep neural networks can quickly fade out when they are trained on a new task. In this paper, we hypothesize this problem can be avoided by learning a set of generalized parameters, that are neither specific to old nor new tasks. In this pursuit, we introduce a novel meta-learning approach that seeks to maintain an equilibrium between all the encountered tasks. This is ensured by a new meta-update rule which avoids catastrophic forgetting. In comparison to previous meta-learning techniques, our approach is task-agnostic. When presented with a continuum of data, our model automatically identifies the task and quickly adapts to it with just a single update. We perform extensive experiments on five datasets in a class-incremental setting, leading to significant improvements over the state of the art methods (e.g., a 21.3% boost on CIFAR100 with 10 incremental tasks). Specifically, on large-scale datasets that generally prove difficult cases for incremental learning, our approach delivers absolute gains as high as 19.1% and 7.4% on ImageNet and MS-Celeb datasets, respectively.

Gaussian affinity for max-margin class imbalanced learning

Real-world object classes appear in imbalanced ratios. This poses a significant challenge for classifiers which get biased towards frequent classes. We hypothesize that improving the generalization capability of a classifier should improve learning on imbalanced datasets. Here, we introduce the first hybrid loss function that jointly performs classification and clustering in a single formulation. Our approach is based on an 'affinity measure' in Euclidean space that leads to the following benefits: (1) direct enforcement of maximum margin constraints on classification boundaries, (2) a tractable way to ensure uniformly spaced and equidistant cluster centers, (3) flexibility to learn multiple class prototypes to support diversity and discriminability in feature space. Our extensive experiments demonstrate the significant performance improvements on visual classification and verification tasks on multiple imbalanced datasets. The proposed loss can easily be plugged in any deep architecture as a differentiable block and demonstrates robustness against different levels of data imbalance and corrupted labels.

Random path selection for continual learning

Incremental life-long learning is a main challenge towards the long-standing goal of Artificial General Intelligence. In real-life settings, learning tasks arrive in a sequence and machine learning models must continually learn to increment already acquired knowledge. The existing incremental learning approaches fall well below the state-of-the-art cumulative models that use all training classes at once. In this paper, we propose a random path selection algorithm, called RPS-Net, that progressively chooses optimal paths for the new tasks while encouraging parameter sharing and reuse. Our approach avoids the overhead introduced by computationally expensive evolutionary and reinforcement learning based path selection strategies while achieving considerable performance gains. As an added novelty, the proposed model integrates knowledge distillation and retrospection along with the path selection strategy to overcome catastrophic forgetting. In order to maintain an equilibrium between previous and newly acquired knowledge, we propose a simple controller to dynamically balance the model plasticity. Through extensive experiments, we demonstrate that the proposed method surpasses the state-of-the-art performance on incremental learning and by utilizing parallel computation this method can run in constant time with nearly the same efficiency as a conventional deep convolutional neural network.

Adversarial defense by restricting the hidden space of deep neural networks

Deep neural networks are vulnerable to adversarial attacks, which can fool them by adding minuscule perturbations to the input images. The robustness of existing defenses suffers greatly under white-box attack settings, where an adversary has full knowledge about the network and can iterate several times to find strong perturbations. We observe that the main reason for the existence of such perturbations is the close proximity of different class samples in the learned feature space. This allows model decisions to be totally changed by adding an imperceptible perturbation in the inputs. To counter this, we propose to class-wise disentangle the intermediate feature representations of deep networks. Specifically, we force the features for each class to lie inside a convex polytope that is maximally separated from the polytopes of other classes. In this manner, the network is forced to learn distinct and distant decision regions for each class. We observe that this simple constraint on the features greatly enhances the robustness of learned models, even against the strongest white-box attacks, without degrading the classification performance on clean images. We report extensive evaluations in both black-box and white-box attack scenarios and show significant gains in comparison to state-of-the art defenses.

Striking the right balance with uncertainty

Learning unbiased models on imbalanced datasets is a significant challenge. Rare classes tend to get a concentrated representation in the classification space which hampers the generalization of learned boundaries to new test examples. In this paper, we demonstrate that the Bayesian uncertainty estimates directly correlate with the rarity of classes and the difficulty level of individual samples. Subsequently, we present a novel framework for uncertainty based class imbalance learning that follows two key insights: First, classification boundaries should be extended further away from a more uncertain (rare) class to avoid overfitting and enhance its generalization. Second, each sample should be modeled as a multi-variate Gaussian distribution with a mean vector and a covariance matrix defined by the sample's uncertainty. The learned boundaries should respect not only the individual samples but also their distribution in the feature space. Our proposed approach efficiently utilizes sample and class uncertainty information to learn robust features and more generalizable classifiers. We systematically study the class imbalance problem and derive a novel loss formulation for max-margin learning based on Bayesian uncertainty measure. The proposed method shows significant performance improvements on six benchmark datasets for face verification, attribute prediction, digit/object classification and skin lesion detection.