Robust Subjective Visual Property Prediction from Crowdsourced Pairwise Labels

The problem of estimating subjective visual properties from image and video has attracted increasing interest. A subjective visual property is useful either on its own (e.g. image and video interestingness) or as an intermediate representation for visual recognition (e.g. a relative attribute). Due to its ambiguous nature, annotating the value of a subjective visual property for learning a prediction model is challenging. To make the annotation more reliable, recent studies employ crowdsourcing tools to collect pairwise comparison labels because human annotators are much better at ranking two images/videos (e.g. which one is more interesting) than giving an absolute value to each of them separately. However, using crowdsourced data also introduces outliers. Existing methods rely on majority voting to prune the annotation outliers/errors. They thus require large amount of pairwise labels to be collected. More importantly as a local outlier detection method, majority voting is ineffective in identifying outliers that can cause global ranking inconsistencies. In this paper, we propose a more principled way to identify annotation outliers by formulating the subjective visual property prediction task as a unified robust learning to rank problem, tackling both the outlier detection and learning to rank jointly. Differing from existing methods, the proposed method integrates local pairwise comparison labels together to minimise a cost that corresponds to global inconsistency of ranking order. This not only leads to better detection of annotation outliers but also enables learning with extremely sparse annotations. Extensive experiments on various benchmark datasets demonstrate that our new approach significantly outperforms state-of-the-arts alternatives.

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