Coarse-to-Fine Vision-Language Pre-training with Fusion in the Backbone

Vision-language (VL) pre-training has recently received considerable attention. However, most existing end-to-end pre-training approaches either only aim to tackle VL tasks such as image-text retrieval, visual question answering (VQA) and image captioning that test high-level understanding of images, or only target region-level understanding for tasks such as phrase grounding and object detection. We present FIBER (Fusion-In-the-Backbone-based transformER), a new VL model architecture that can seamlessly handle both these types of tasks. Instead of having dedicated transformer layers for fusion after the uni-modal backbones, FIBER pushes multimodal fusion deep into the model by inserting cross-attention into the image and text backbones, bringing gains in terms of memory and performance. In addition, unlike previous work that is either only pre-trained on image-text data or on fine-grained data with box-level annotations, we present a two-stage pre-training strategy that uses both these kinds of data efficiently: (i) coarse-grained pre-training based on image-text data; followed by (ii) fine-grained pre-training based on image-text-box data. We conduct comprehensive experiments on a wide range of VL tasks, ranging from VQA, image captioning, and retrieval, to phrase grounding, referring expression comprehension, and object detection. Using deep multimodal fusion coupled with the two-stage pre-training, FIBER provides consistent performance improvements over strong baselines across all tasks, often outperforming methods using magnitudes more data. Code is available at

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Task Dataset Model Metric Name Metric Value Global Rank Uses Extra
Training Data
Result Benchmark
Phrase Grounding Flickr30k Entities Dev Fiber-B R@1 87.1 # 1
R@10 97.4 # 1
R@5 96.1 # 1
Phrase Grounding Flickr30k Entities Test Fiber-B R@1 87.4 # 2
R@10 97.6 # 2
R@5 96.4 # 2


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