Self-Supervised Learning based on Heat Equation

23 Nov 2022  ·  Yinpeng Chen, Xiyang Dai, Dongdong Chen, Mengchen Liu, Lu Yuan, Zicheng Liu, Youzuo Lin ·

This paper presents a new perspective of self-supervised learning based on extending heat equation into high dimensional feature space. In particular, we remove time dependence by steady-state condition, and extend the remaining 2D Laplacian from x--y isotropic to linear correlated. Furthermore, we simplify it by splitting x and y axes as two first-order linear differential equations. Such simplification explicitly models the spatial invariance along horizontal and vertical directions separately, supporting prediction across image blocks. This introduces a very simple masked image modeling (MIM) method, named QB-Heat. QB-Heat leaves a single block with size of quarter image unmasked and extrapolates other three masked quarters linearly. It brings MIM to CNNs without bells and whistles, and even works well for pre-training light-weight networks that are suitable for both image classification and object detection without fine-tuning. Compared with MoCo-v2 on pre-training a Mobile-Former with 5.8M parameters and 285M FLOPs, QB-Heat is on par in linear probing on ImageNet, but clearly outperforms in non-linear probing that adds a transformer block before linear classifier (65.6% vs. 52.9%). When transferring to object detection with frozen backbone, QB-Heat outperforms MoCo-v2 and supervised pre-training on ImageNet by 7.9 and 4.5 AP respectively. This work provides an insightful hypothesis on the invariance within visual representation over different shapes and textures: the linear relationship between horizontal and vertical derivatives. The code will be publicly released.

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