Layer Grafted Pre-training: Bridging Contrastive Learning And Masked Image Modeling For Label-Efficient Representations

Recently, both Contrastive Learning (CL) and Mask Image Modeling (MIM) demonstrate that self-supervision is powerful to learn good representations. However, naively combining them is far from success. In this paper, we start by making the empirical observation that a naive joint optimization of CL and MIM losses leads to conflicting gradient directions - more severe as the layers go deeper. This motivates us to shift the paradigm from combining loss at the end, to choosing the proper learning method per network layer. Inspired by experimental observations, we find that MIM and CL are suitable to lower and higher layers, respectively. We hence propose to combine them in a surprisingly simple, "sequential cascade" fashion: early layers are first trained under one MIM loss, on top of which latter layers continue to be trained under another CL loss. The proposed Layer Grafted Pre-training learns good visual representations that demonstrate superior label efficiency in downstream applications, in particular yielding strong few-shot performance besides linear evaluation. For instance, on ImageNet-1k, Layer Grafted Pre-training yields 65.5% Top-1 accuracy in terms of 1% few-shot learning with ViT-B/16, which improves MIM and CL baselines by 14.4% and 2.1% with no bells and whistles. The code is available at

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