Learning a Loopy Model For Semantic Segmentation Exactly

Learning structured models using maximum margin techniques has become an indispensable tool for com- puter vision researchers, as many computer vision applications can be cast naturally as an image labeling problem. Pixel-based or superpixel-based conditional random fields are particularly popular examples. Typ- ically, neighborhood graphs, which contain a large number of cycles, are used. As exact inference in loopy graphs is NP-hard in general, learning these models without approximations is usually deemed infeasible. In this work we show that, despite the theoretical hardness, it is possible to learn loopy models exactly in practical applications. To this end, we analyze the use of multiple approximate inference techniques together with cutting plane training of structural SVMs. We show that our proposed method yields exact solutions with an optimality guarantees in a computer vision application, for little additional computational cost. We also propose a dynamic caching scheme to accelerate training further, yielding runtimes that are comparable with approximate methods. We hope that this insight can lead to a reconsideration of the tractability of loopy models in computer vision.

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