Contextual Similarity Aggregation with Self-attention for Visual Re-ranking

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 pre-proceedings (NeurIPS 2021)

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Jianbo Ouyang, Hui Wu, Min Wang, Wengang Zhou, Houqiang Li


In content-based image retrieval, the first-round retrieval result by simple visual feature comparison may be unsatisfactory, which can be refined by visual re-ranking techniques. In image retrieval, it is observed that the contextual similarity among the top-ranked images is an important clue to distinguish the semantic relevance. Inspired by this observation, in this paper, we propose a visual re-ranking method by contextual similarity aggregation with self-attention. In our approach, for each image in the top-K ranking list, we represent it into an affinity feature vector by comparing it with a set of anchor images. Then, the affinity features of the top-K images are refined by aggregating the contextual information with a transformer encoder. Finally, the affinity features are used to recalculate the similarity scores between the query and the top-K images for re-ranking of the latter. To further improve the robustness of our re-ranking model and enhance the performance of our method, a new data augmentation scheme is designed. Since our re-ranking model is not directly involved with the visual feature used in the initial retrieval, it is ready to be applied to retrieval result lists obtained from various retrieval algorithms. We conduct comprehensive experiments on four benchmark datasets to demonstrate the generality and effectiveness of our proposed visual re-ranking method.