Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 35 (NeurIPS 2022) Main Conference Track
Zicheng Zhang, Yi Zhu, Jianzhuang Liu, Xiaodan Liang, Wei Ke
Referring image segmentation aims at localizing all pixels of the visual objects described by a natural language sentence. Previous works learn to straightforwardly align the sentence embedding and pixel-level embedding for highlighting the referred objects, but ignore the semantic consistency of pixels within the same object, leading to incomplete masks and localization errors in predictions. To tackle this problem, we propose CoupAlign, a simple yet effective multi-level visual-semantic alignment method, to couple sentence-mask alignment with word-pixel alignment to enforce object mask constraint for achieving more accurate localization and segmentation. Specifically, the Word-Pixel Alignment (WPA) module performs early fusion of linguistic and pixel-level features in intermediate layers of the vision and language encoders. Based on the word-pixel aligned embedding, a set of mask proposals are generated to hypothesize possible objects. Then in the Sentence-Mask Alignment (SMA) module, the masks are weighted by the sentence embedding to localize the referred object, and finally projected back to aggregate the pixels for the target. To further enhance the learning of the two alignment modules, an auxiliary loss is designed to contrast the foreground and background pixels. By hierarchically aligning pixels and masks with linguistic features, our CoupAlign captures the pixel coherence at both visual and semantic levels, thus generating more accurate predictions. Extensive experiments on popular datasets (e.g., RefCOCO and G-Ref) show that our method achieves consistent improvements over state-of-the-art methods, e.g., about 2% oIoU increase on the validation and testing set of RefCOCO. Especially, CoupAlign has remarkable ability in distinguishing the target from multiple objects of the same class. Code will be available at https://gitee.com/mindspore/models/tree/master/research/cv/CoupAlign.