Bottom-Up Top-Down Cues for Weakly-Supervised Semantic Segmentation

We consider the task of learning a classifier for semantic segmentation using weak supervision in the form of image labels which specify the object classes present in the image. Our method uses deep convolutional neural networks (CNNs) and adopts an Expectation-Maximization (EM) based approach. We focus on the following three aspects of EM: (i) initialization; (ii) latent posterior estimation (E-step) and (iii) the parameter update (M-step). We show that saliency and attention maps, our bottom-up and top-down cues respectively, of simple images provide very good cues to learn an initialization for the EM-based algorithm. Intuitively, we show that before trying to learn to segment complex images, it is much easier and highly effective to first learn to segment a set of simple images and then move towards the complex ones. Next, in order to update the parameters, we propose minimizing the combination of the standard softmax loss and the KL divergence between the true latent posterior and the likelihood given by the CNN. We argue that this combination is more robust to wrong predictions made by the expectation step of the EM method. We support this argument with empirical and visual results. Extensive experiments and discussions show that: (i) our method is very simple and intuitive; (ii) requires only image-level labels; and (iii) consistently outperforms other weakly-supervised state-of-the-art methods with a very high margin on the PASCAL VOC 2012 dataset.

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