Samuel Schulter NEC Labs America

Samuel Schulter

Senior Researcher

Media Analytics


Generating Enhanced Negatives for Training Language-Based Object Detectors

The recent progress in language-based open-vocabulary object detection can be largely attributed to finding better ways of leveraging large-scale data with free-form text annotations. Training such models with a discriminative objective function has proven successful, but requires good positive and negative samples.

Taming Self-Training for Open-Vocabulary Object Detection

Recent studies have shown promising performance in open-vocabulary object detection (OVD) by utilizing pseudo labels (PLs) from pretrained vision and language models (VLMs). However, teacher-student self-training, a powerful and widely used paradigm to leverage PLs, is rarely explored for OVD.

Progressive Token Length Scaling in Transformer Encoders for Efficient Universal Segmentation

A powerful architecture for universal segmentation relies on transformers that encode multi-scale image features and decode object queries into mask predictions. With efficiency being a high priority for scaling such models, we observed that the state-of-the-art method Mask2Former uses >50% of its compute only on the transformer encoder. This is due to the retention of a full-length token-level representation of all backbone feature scales at each encoder layer. With this observation, we propose a strategy termed PROgressive Token Length SCALing for Efficient transformer encoders (PRO-SCALE) that can be plugged-in to the Mask2Former style segmentation architectures to significantly reduce the computational cost. The underlying principle of PRO-SCALE is: progressively scale the length of the tokens with the layers of the encoder. This allows PRO-SCALE to reduce computations by a large margin with minimal sacrifice in performance (?52% GFLOPs reduction with no drop in performance on COCO dataset). We validate our frame work on multiple public benchmarks.

Self-Training Large Language Models for Improved Visual Program Synthesis With Visual Reinforcement

Visual program synthesis is a promising approach to exploit the reasoning abilities of large language models for compositional computer vision tasks. Previous work has used few-shot prompting with frozen LLMs to synthesize visual programs. Training an LLM to write better visual programs is an attractive prospect, but it is unclear how to accomplish this. No dataset of visual programs for training exists, and acquisition of a visual program dataset cannot be easily crowdsourced due to the need for expert annotators. To get around the lack of direct supervision, we explore improving the program synthesis abilities of an LLM using feedback from interactive experience. We propose a method where we exploit existing annotations for a vision-language task to improvise a coarse reward signal for that task, treat the LLM as a policy, and apply reinforced self-training to improve the visual program synthesis ability of the LLM for that task. We describe a series of experiments on object detection, compositional visual question answering, and image-text retrieval, and show that in each case, the self-trained LLM outperforms or performs on par with few-shot frozen LLMs that are an order of magnitude larger. Website:

AIDE: An Automatic Data Engine for Object Detection in Autonomous Driving

Autonomous vehicle (AV) systems rely on robust perception models as a cornerstone of safety assurance. However, objects encountered on the road exhibit a long-tailed distribution, with rare or unseen categories posing challenges to a deployed perception model. This necessitates an expensive process of continuously curating and annotating data with significant human effort. We propose to leverage recent advances in vision-language and large language models to design an Automatic Data Engine (AIDE) that automatically identifies issues, efficiently curates data, improves the model through auto-labeling, and verifies the model through generation of diverse scenarios. This process operates iteratively, allowing for continuous self-improvement of the model. We further establish a benchmark for open-world detection on AV datasets to comprehensively evaluate various learning paradigms, demonstrating our method’s superior performance at a reduced cost.

Improving Language-Based Object Detection by Explicit Generation of Negative Examples

The recent progress in language-based object detection with an open-vocabulary can be largely attributed to finding better ways of leveraging large-scale data with free-form text annotations. Training from image captions with grounded bounding boxes (ground truth or pseudo-labeled) enable the models to reason over an open-vocabulary and understand object descriptions in free-form text. In this work, we investigate the role of negative captions for training such language-based object detectors. While the fixed label space in standard object detection datasets clearly defines the set of negative classes, the free-form text used for language-based detection makes the space of potential negatives virtually infinite in size. We propose to leverage external knowledge bases and large-language-models to automatically generate contradictions for each caption in the training dataset. Furthermore, we leverage image-generate tools to create corresponding negative images to the contradicting caption. Such automatically generated data constitute hard negative examples for language-based detection and improve the model when trained from. Our experiments demonstrate the benefits of the automatically generated training data on two complex benchmarks.

Exploring Question Decomposition for Zero-Shot VQA

Visual question answering (VQA) has traditionally been treated as a single-step task where each question receives the same amount of effort, unlike natural human question-answering strategies. We explore a question decomposition strategy for VQA to overcome this limitation. We probe the ability of recently developed large vision-language models to use human-written decompositions and produce their own decompositions of visual questions, finding they are capable of learning both tasks from demonstrations alone. However, we show that naive application of model-written decompositions can hurt performance. We introduce a model-driven selective decomposition approach for second-guessing predictions and correcting errors, and validate its effectiveness on eight VQA tasks across three domains, showing consistent improvements in accuracy, including improvements of >20% on medical VQA datasets and boosting the zero-shot performance of BLIP-2 above chance on a VQA reformulation of the challenging Winoground task. Project Site:

Efficient Controllable Multi-Task Architectures

We aim to train a multi-task model such that users can adjust the desired compute budget and relative importance of task performances after deployment, without retraining. This enables optimizing performance for dynamically varying user needs, without heavy computational overhead to train and save models for various scenarios. To this end, we propose a multi-task model consisting of a shared encoder and task-specific decoders where both encoder and decoder channel widths are slimmable. Our key idea is to control the task importance by varying the capacities of task-specific decoders, while controlling the total computational cost by jointly adjusting the encoder capacity. This improves overall accuracy by allowing a stronger encoder for a given budget, increases control over computational cost, and delivers high-quality slimmed sub-architectures based on user’s constraints. Our training strategy involves a novel `Configuration-Invariant Knowledge Distillation’ loss that enforces backbone representations to be invariant under different runtime width configurations to enhance accuracy. Further, we present a simple but effective search algorithm that translates user constraints to runtime width configurations of both the shared encoder and task decoders, for sampling the sub-architectures. The key rule for the search algorithm is to provide a larger computational budget to the higher preferred task decoder, while searching a shared encoder configuration that enhances the overall MTL performance. Various experiments on three multi-task benchmarks (PASCALContext, NYUDv2, and CIFAR100-MTL) with diverse backbone architectures demonstrate the advantage of our approach. For example, our method shows a higher controllability by 33.5% in the NYUD-v2 dataset over prior methods, while incurring much less compute cost.

OmniLabel: A Challenging Benchmark for Language-Based Object Detection

Language-based object detection is a promising direction towards building a natural interface to describe objects in images that goes far beyond plain category names. While recent methods show great progress in that direction, proper evaluation is lacking. With OmniLabel, we propose a novel task definition, dataset, and evaluation metric. The task subsumes standard and open-vocabulary detection as well as referring expressions. With more than 30K unique object descriptions on over 25K images, OmniLabel provides a challenge benchmark with diverse and complex object descriptions in a naturally open-vocabulary setting. Moreover, a key differentiation to existing benchmarks is that our object descriptions can refer to one, multiple or even no object, hence, providing negative examples in free-form text. The proposed evaluation handles the large label space and judges performance via a modified average precision metric, which we validate by evaluating strong language-based baselines. OmniLabel indeed provides a challenging test bed for future research on language-based detection.

Improving Pseudo Labels for Open-Vocabulary Object Detection

Recent studies show promising performance in open-vocabulary object detection (OVD) using pseudo labels (PLs) from pretrained vision and language models (VLMs). However, PLs generated by VLMs are extremely noisy due to the gap between the pretraining objective of VLMs and OVD, which blocks further advances on PLs. In this paper, we aim to reduce the noise in PLs and propose a method called online Self-training And a Split-and-fusion head for OVD (SAS-Det). First, the self-training finetunes VLMs to generate high quality PLs while prevents forgetting the knowledge learned in the pretraining. Second, a split-and-fusion (SAF) head is designed to remove the noise in localization of PLs, which is usually ignored in existing methods. It also fuses complementary knowledge learned from both precise ground truth and noisy pseudo labels to boost the performance. Extensive experiments demonstrate SAS-Det is both efficient and effective. Our pseudo labeling is 3 times faster than prior methods. SAS-Det outperforms prior state-of-the-art models of the same scale by a clear margin and achieves 37.4 AP50 and 27.3 APr on novel categories of the COCO and LVIS benchmarks, respectively.