AdaViT: Adaptive Vision Transformers for Efficient Image Recognition

30 Nov 2021  ·  Lingchen Meng, Hengduo Li, Bor-Chun Chen, Shiyi Lan, Zuxuan Wu, Yu-Gang Jiang, Ser-Nam Lim ·

Built on top of self-attention mechanisms, vision transformers have demonstrated remarkable performance on a variety of vision tasks recently. While achieving excellent performance, they still require relatively intensive computational cost that scales up drastically as the numbers of patches, self-attention heads and transformer blocks increase. In this paper, we argue that due to the large variations among images, their need for modeling long-range dependencies between patches differ. To this end, we introduce AdaViT, an adaptive computation framework that learns to derive usage policies on which patches, self-attention heads and transformer blocks to use throughout the backbone on a per-input basis, aiming to improve inference efficiency of vision transformers with a minimal drop of accuracy for image recognition. Optimized jointly with a transformer backbone in an end-to-end manner, a light-weight decision network is attached to the backbone to produce decisions on-the-fly. Extensive experiments on ImageNet demonstrate that our method obtains more than 2x improvement on efficiency compared to state-of-the-art vision transformers with only 0.8% drop of accuracy, achieving good efficiency/accuracy trade-offs conditioned on different computational budgets. We further conduct quantitative and qualitative analysis on learned usage polices and provide more insights on the redundancy in vision transformers.

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