AU-Aware Vision Transformers for Biased Facial Expression Recognition

12 Nov 2022  ·  Shuyi Mao, Xinpeng Li, Qingyang Wu, Xiaojiang Peng ·

Studies have proven that domain bias and label bias exist in different Facial Expression Recognition (FER) datasets, making it hard to improve the performance of a specific dataset by adding other datasets. For the FER bias issue, recent researches mainly focus on the cross-domain issue with advanced domain adaption algorithms. This paper addresses another problem: how to boost FER performance by leveraging cross-domain datasets. Unlike the coarse and biased expression label, the facial Action Unit (AU) is fine-grained and objective suggested by psychological studies. Motivated by this, we resort to the AU information of different FER datasets for performance boosting and make contributions as follows. First, we experimentally show that the naive joint training of multiple FER datasets is harmful to the FER performance of individual datasets. We further introduce expression-specific mean images and AU cosine distances to measure FER dataset bias. This novel measurement shows consistent conclusions with experimental degradation of joint training. Second, we propose a simple yet conceptually-new framework, AU-aware Vision Transformer (AU-ViT). It improves the performance of individual datasets by jointly training auxiliary datasets with AU or pseudo-AU labels. We also find that the AU-ViT is robust to real-world occlusions. Moreover, for the first time, we prove that a carefully-initialized ViT achieves comparable performance to advanced deep convolutional networks. Our AU-ViT achieves state-of-the-art performance on three popular datasets, namely 91.10% on RAF-DB, 65.59% on AffectNet, and 90.15% on FERPlus. The code and models will be released soon.

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