The strong performance of vision transformers on image classification and other vision tasks is often attributed to the design of their multi-head attention layers. However, the extent to which attention is responsible for this strong performance remains unclear. In this short report, we ask: is the attention layer even necessary? Specifically, we replace the attention layer in a vision transformer with a feed-forward layer applied over the patch dimension. The resulting architecture is simply a series of feed-forward layers applied over the patch and feature dimensions in an alternating fashion. In experiments on ImageNet, this architecture performs surprisingly well: a ViT/DeiT-base-sized model obtains 74.9% top-1 accuracy, compared to 77.9% and 79.9% for ViT and DeiT respectively. These results indicate that aspects of vision transformers other than attention, such as the patch embedding, may be more responsible for their strong performance than previously thought. We hope these results prompt the community to spend more time trying to understand why our current models are as effective as they are.
Can we complete pre-training of Vision Transformers (ViT) without natural images and human-annotated labels? Although a pre-trained ViT seems to heavily rely on a large-scale dataset and human-annotated labels, recent large-scale datasets contain several problems in terms of privacy violations, inadequate fairness protection, and labor-intensive annotation. In the present paper, we pre-train ViT without any image collections and annotation labor. We experimentally verify that our proposed framework partially outperforms sophisticated Self-Supervised Learning (SSL) methods like SimCLRv2 and MoCov2 without using any natural images in the pre-training phase. Moreover, although the ViT pre-trained without natural images produces some different visualizations from ImageNet pre-trained ViT, it can interpret natural image datasets to a large extent. For example, the performance rates on the CIFAR-10 dataset are as follows: our proposal 97.6 vs. SimCLRv2 97.4 vs. ImageNet 98.0.
Vision transformers (ViTs) have been successfully applied in image classification tasks recently. In this paper, we show that, unlike convolution neural networks (CNNs)that can be improved by stacking more convolutional layers, the performance of ViTs saturate fast when scaled to be deeper. More specifically, we empirically observe that such scaling difficulty is caused by the attention collapse issue: as the transformer goes deeper, the attention maps gradually become similar and even much the same after certain layers. In other words, the feature maps tend to be identical in the top layers of deep ViT models. This fact demonstrates that in deeper layers of ViTs, the self-attention mechanism fails to learn effective concepts for representation learning and hinders the model from getting expected performance gain. Based on above observation, we propose a simple yet effective method, named Re-attention, to re-generate the attention maps to increase their diversity at different layers with negligible computation and memory cost. The pro-posed method makes it feasible to train deeper ViT models with consistent performance improvements via minor modification to existing ViT models. Notably, when training a deep ViT model with 32 transformer blocks, the Top-1 classification accuracy can be improved by 1.6% on ImageNet.
Transformer is a type of self-attention-based neural networks originally applied for NLP tasks. Recently, pure transformer-based models are proposed to solve computer vision problems. These visual transformers usually view an image as a sequence of patches while they ignore the intrinsic structure information inside each patch. In this paper, we propose a novel Transformer-iN-Transformer (TNT) model for modeling both patch-level and pixel-level representation. In each TNT block, an outer transformer block is utilized to process patch embeddings, and an inner transformer block extracts local features from pixel embeddings. The pixel-level feature is projected to the space of patch embedding by a linear transformation layer and then added into the patch. By stacking the TNT blocks, we build the TNT model for image recognition. Experiments on ImageNet benchmark and downstream tasks demonstrate the superiority and efficiency of the proposed TNT architecture. For example, our TNT achieves 81.3% top-1 accuracy on ImageNet which is 1.5% higher than that of DeiT with similar computational cost.
Learning from a limited number of samples is challenging since the learned model can easily become overfitted based on the biased distribution formed by only a few training examples. In this paper, we calibrate the distribution of these few-sample classes by transferring statistics from the classes with sufficient examples, then an adequate number of examples can be sampled from the calibrated distribution to expand the inputs to the classifier. We assume every dimension in the feature representation follows a Gaussian distribution so that the mean and the variance of the distribution can borrow from that of similar classes whose statistics are better estimated with an adequate number of samples. Our method can be built on top of off-the-shelf pretrained feature extractors and classification models without extra parameters. We show that a simple logistic regression classifier trained using the features sampled from our calibrated distribution can outperform the state-of-the-art accuracy on two datasets (~5% improvement on miniImageNet compared to the next best). The visualization of these generated features demonstrates that our calibrated distribution is an accurate estimation.
Recently, channel attention mechanism has demonstrated to offer great potential in improving the performance of deep convolutional neural networks (CNNs). However, most existing methods dedicate to developing more sophisticated attention modules for achieving better performance, which inevitably increase model complexity. To overcome the paradox of performance and complexity trade-off, this paper proposes an Efficient Channel Attention (ECA) module, which only involves a handful of parameters while bringing clear performance gain. By dissecting the channel attention module in SENet, we empirically show avoiding dimensionality reduction is important for learning channel attention, and appropriate cross-channel interaction can preserve performance while significantly decreasing model complexity. Therefore, we propose a local cross-channel interaction strategy without dimensionality reduction, which can be efficiently implemented via 1D convolution. Furthermore, we develop a method to adaptively select kernel size of 1D convolution, determining coverage of local cross-channel interaction. The proposed ECA module is efficient yet effective, e.g., the parameters and computations of our modules against backbone of ResNet50 are 80 vs. 24.37M and 4.7e-4 GFLOPs vs. 3.86 GFLOPs, respectively, and the performance boost is more than 2% in terms of Top-1 accuracy. We extensively evaluate our ECA module on image classification, object detection and instance segmentation with backbones of ResNets and MobileNetV2. The experimental results show our module is more efficient while performing favorably against its counterparts.
Recently, neural networks purely based on attention were shown to address image understanding tasks such as image classification. However, these visual transformers are pre-trained with hundreds of millions of images using an expensive infrastructure, thereby limiting their adoption by the larger community. In this work, with an adequate training scheme, we produce a competitive convolution-free transformer by training on Imagenet only. We train it on a single computer in less than 3 days. Our reference vision transformer (86M parameters) achieves top-1 accuracy of 83.1% (single-crop evaluation) on ImageNet with no external data. We share our code and models to accelerate community advances on this line of research. Additionally, we introduce a teacher-student strategy specific to transformers. It relies on a distillation token ensuring that the student learns from the teacher through attention. We show the interest of this token-based distillation, especially when using a convnet as a teacher. This leads us to report results competitive with convnets for both Imagenet (where we obtain up to 84.4% accuracy) and when transferring to other tasks.
Recent work has shown that data augmentation has the potential to significantly improve the generalization of deep learning models. Recently, automated augmentation strategies have led to state-of-the-art results in image classification and object detection. While these strategies were optimized for improving validation accuracy, they also led to state-of-the-art results in semi-supervised learning and improved robustness to common corruptions of images. An obstacle to a large-scale adoption of these methods is a separate search phase which increases the training complexity and may substantially increase the computational cost. Additionally, due to the separate search phase, these approaches are unable to adjust the regularization strength based on model or dataset size. Automated augmentation policies are often found by training small models on small datasets and subsequently applied to train larger models. In this work, we remove both of these obstacles. RandAugment has a significantly reduced search space which allows it to be trained on the target task with no need for a separate proxy task. Furthermore, due to the parameterization, the regularization strength may be tailored to different model and dataset sizes. RandAugment can be used uniformly across different tasks and datasets and works out of the box, matching or surpassing all previous automated augmentation approaches on CIFAR-10/100, SVHN, and ImageNet. On the ImageNet dataset we achieve 85.0% accuracy, a 0.6% increase over the previous state-of-the-art and 1.0% increase over baseline augmentation. On object detection, RandAugment leads to 1.0-1.3% improvement over baseline augmentation, and is within 0.3% mAP of AutoAugment on COCO. Finally, due to its interpretable hyperparameter, RandAugment may be used to investigate the role of data augmentation with varying model and dataset size. Code is available online.
Developing neural network image classification models often requires significant architecture engineering. In this paper, we study a method to learn the model architectures directly on the dataset of interest. As this approach is expensive when the dataset is large, we propose to search for an architectural building block on a small dataset and then transfer the block to a larger dataset. The key contribution of this work is the design of a new search space (the “NASNet search space”) which enables transferability. In our experiments, we search for the best convolutional layer (or “cell”) on the CIFAR-10 dataset and then apply this cell to the ImageNet dataset by stacking together more copies of this cell, each with their own parameters to design a convolutional architecture, named “NASNet architecture”. We also introduce a new regularization technique called ScheduledDropPath that significantly improves generalization in the NASNet models. On CIFAR-10 itself, NASNet achieves 2.4% error rate, which is state-of-the-art. On ImageNet, NASNet achieves, among the published works, state-of-the-art accuracy of 82.7% top-1 and 96.2% top-5 on ImageNet. Our model is 1.2% better in top-1 accuracy than the best human-invented architectures while having 9 billion fewer FLOPS – a reduction of 28% in computational demand from the previous state-of-the-art model. When evaluated at different levels of computational cost, accuracies of NASNets exceed those of the state-of-the-art human-designed models. For instance, a small version of NASNet also achieves 74% top-1 accuracy, which is 3.1% better than equivalently-sized, state-of-the-art models for mobile platforms. Finally, the learned features by NASNet used with the Faster-RCNN framework surpass state-of-the-art by 4.0% achieving 43.1% mAP on the COCO dataset.