General Multi-label Image Classification with Transformers

Jack Lanchantin, Tianlu Wang, Vicente Ordonez, Yanjun Qi

Multi-label image classification is the task of predicting a set of labels corresponding to objects, attributes or other entities present in an image. In this work we propose the Classification Transformer (C-Tran), a general framework for multi-label image classification that leverages Transformers to exploit the complex dependencies among visual features and labels. Our approach consists of a Transformer encoder trained to predict a set of target labels given an input set of masked labels, and visual features from a convolutional neural network. A key ingredient of our method is a label mask training objective that uses a ternary encoding scheme to represent the state of the labels as positive, negative, or unknown during training. Our model shows state-of-the-art performance on challenging datasets such as COCO and Visual Genome. Moreover, because our model explicitly represents the uncertainty of labels during training, it is more general by allowing us to produce improved results for images with partial or extra label annotations during inference. We demonstrate this additional capability in the COCO, Visual Genome, News500, and CUB image datasets.

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