A Region Proposal Network, or RPN, is a fully convolutional network that simultaneously predicts object bounds and objectness scores at each position. The RPN is trained end-to-end to generate high-quality region proposals. RPN and algorithms like Fast R-CNN can be merged into a single network by sharing their convolutional features - using the recently popular terminology of neural networks with attention mechanisms, the RPN component tells the unified network where to look.
RPNs are designed to efficiently predict region proposals with a wide range of scales and aspect ratios. RPNs use anchor boxes that serve as references at multiple scales and aspect ratios. The scheme can be thought of as a pyramid of regression references, which avoids enumerating images or filters of multiple scales or aspect ratios.Source: Faster R-CNN: Towards Real-Time Object Detection with Region Proposal Networks
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