Mean-Field methods for Structured Deep-Learning in Computer Vision

In recent years, Machine Learning based Computer Vision techniques made impressive progress. These algorithms proved particularly efficient for image classification or detection of isolated objects. From a probabilistic perspective, these methods can predict marginals, over single or multiple variables, independently, with high accuracy. However, in many tasks of practical interest, we need to predict jointly several correlated variables. Practical applications include people detection in crowded scenes, image segmentation, surface reconstruction, 3D pose estimation and others. A large part of the research effort in today's computer-vision community aims at finding task-specific solutions to these problems, while leveraging the power of Deep-Learning based classifiers. In this thesis, we present our journey towards a generic and practical solution based on mean-field (MF) inference. Mean-field is a Statistical Physics-inspired method which has long been used in Computer-Vision as a variational approximation to posterior distributions over complex Conditional Random Fields. Standard mean-field optimization is based on coordinate descent and in many situations can be impractical. We therefore propose a novel proximal gradient-based approach to optimizing the variational objective. It is naturally parallelizable and easy to implement. We prove its convergence, and then demonstrate that, in practice, it yields faster convergence and often finds better optima than more traditional mean-field optimization techniques. Then, we show that we can replace the fully factorized distribution of mean-field by a weighted mixture of such distributions, that similarly minimizes the KL-Divergence to the true posterior. Our extension of the clamping method proposed in previous works allows us to both produce a more descriptive approximation of the true posterior and, inspired by the diverse MAP paradigms, fit a mixture of mean-field approximations. We demonstrate that this positively impacts real-world algorithms that initially relied on mean-fields. One of the important properties of the mean-field inference algorithms is that the closed-form updates are fully differentiable operations. This naturally allows to do parameter learning by simply unrolling multiple iterations of the updates, the so-called back-mean-field algorithm. We derive a novel and efficient structured learning method for multi-modal posterior distribution based on the Multi-Modal Mean-Field approximation, which can be seamlessly combined to modern gradient-based learning methods such as CNNs. Finally, we explore in more details the specific problem of structured learning and prediction for multiple-people detection in crowded scenes. We then present a mean-field based structured deep-learning detection algorithm that provides state of the art results on this dataset.

Fua, Pascal
Fleuret, François
Lausanne, EPFL

 Record created 2018-07-10, last modified 2019-01-18

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