RefConv: Re-parameterized Refocusing Convolution for Powerful ConvNets

We propose Re-parameterized Refocusing Convolution (RefConv) as a replacement for regular convolutional layers, which is a plug-and-play module to improve the performance without any inference costs. Specifically, given a pre-trained model, RefConv applies a trainable Refocusing Transformation to the basis kernels inherited from the pre-trained model to establish connections among the parameters. For example, a depth-wise RefConv can relate the parameters of a specific channel of convolution kernel to the parameters of the other kernel, i.e., make them refocus on the other parts of the model they have never attended to, rather than focus on the input features only. From another perspective, RefConv augments the priors of existing model structures by utilizing the representations encoded in the pre-trained parameters as the priors and refocusing on them to learn novel representations, thus further enhancing the representational capacity of the pre-trained model. Experimental results validated that RefConv can improve multiple CNN-based models by a clear margin on image classification (up to 1.47% higher top-1 accuracy on ImageNet), object detection and semantic segmentation without introducing any extra inference costs or altering the original model structure. Further studies demonstrated that RefConv can reduce the redundancy of channels and smooth the loss landscape, which explains its effectiveness.

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