Continual Learning for Blind Image Quality Assessment

The explosive growth of image data facilitates the fast development of image processing and computer vision methods for emerging visual applications, meanwhile introducing novel distortions to the processed images. This poses a grand challenge to existing blind image quality assessment (BIQA) models, failing to continually adapt to such subpopulation shift. Recent work suggests training BIQA methods on the combination of all available human-rated IQA datasets. However, this type of approach is not scalable to a large number of datasets, and is cumbersome to incorporate a newly created dataset as well. In this paper, we formulate continual learning for BIQA, where a model learns continually from a stream of IQA datasets, building on what was learned from previously seen data. We first identify five desiderata in the new setting with a measure to quantify the plasticity-stability trade-off. We then propose a simple yet effective method for learning BIQA models continually. Specifically, based on a shared backbone network, we add a prediction head for a new dataset, and enforce a regularizer to allow all prediction heads to evolve with new data while being resistant to catastrophic forgetting of old data. We compute the quality score by an adaptive weighted summation of estimates from all prediction heads. Extensive experiments demonstrate the promise of the proposed continual learning method in comparison to standard training techniques for BIQA. We made the code publicly available at

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