Rank-smoothed Pairwise Learning In Perceptual Quality Assessment

Hossein Talebi, Ehsan Amid, Peyman Milanfar, Manfred K. Warmuth

Conducting pairwise comparisons is a widely used approach in curating human perceptual preference data. Typically raters are instructed to make their choices according to a specific set of rules that address certain dimensions of image quality and aesthetics. The outcome of this process is a dataset of sampled image pairs with their associated empirical preference probabilities. Training a model on these pairwise preferences is a common deep learning approach. However, optimizing by gradient descent through mini-batch learning means that the "global" ranking of the images is not explicitly taken into account. In other words, each step of the gradient descent relies only on a limited number of pairwise comparisons. In this work, we demonstrate that regularizing the pairwise empirical probabilities with aggregated rankwise probabilities leads to a more reliable training loss. We show that training a deep image quality assessment model with our rank-smoothed loss consistently improves the accuracy of predicting human preferences.

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