Know Your Self-supervised Learning: A Survey on Image-based Generative and Discriminative Training

Although supervised learning has been highly successful in improving the state-of-the-art in the domain of image-based computer vision in the past, the margin of improvement has diminished significantly in recent years, indicating that a plateau is in sight. Meanwhile, the use of self-supervised learning (SSL) for the purpose of natural language processing (NLP) has seen tremendous successes during the past couple of years, with this new learning paradigm yielding powerful language models. Inspired by the excellent results obtained in the field of NLP, self-supervised methods that rely on clustering, contrastive learning, distillation, and information-maximization, which all fall under the banner of discriminative SSL, have experienced a swift uptake in the area of computer vision. Shortly afterwards, generative SSL frameworks that are mostly based on masked image modeling, complemented and surpassed the results obtained with discriminative SSL. Consequently, within a span of three years, over $100$ unique general-purpose frameworks for generative and discriminative SSL, with a focus on imaging, were proposed. In this survey, we review a plethora of research efforts conducted on image-oriented SSL, providing a historic view and paying attention to best practices as well as useful software packages. While doing so, we discuss pretext tasks for image-based SSL, as well as techniques that are commonly used in image-based SSL. Lastly, to aid researchers who aim at contributing to image-focused SSL, we outline a number of promising research directions.

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