Locate then Segment: A Strong Pipeline for Referring Image Segmentation

Ya Jing, Tao Kong, Wei Wang, Liang Wang, Lei li, Tieniu Tan

Referring image segmentation aims to segment the objects referred by a natural language expression. Previous methods usually focus on designing an implicit and recurrent feature interaction mechanism to fuse the visual-linguistic features to directly generate the final segmentation mask without explicitly modeling the localization information of the referent instances. To tackle these problems, we view this task from another perspective by decoupling it into a "Locate-Then-Segment" (LTS) scheme. Given a language expression, people generally first perform attention to the corresponding target image regions, then generate a fine segmentation mask about the object based on its context. The LTS first extracts and fuses both visual and textual features to get a cross-modal representation, then applies a cross-model interaction on the visual-textual features to locate the referred object with position prior, and finally generates the segmentation result with a light-weight segmentation network. Our LTS is simple but surprisingly effective. On three popular benchmark datasets, the LTS outperforms all the previous state-of-the-art methods by a large margin (e.g., +3.2% on RefCOCO+ and +3.4% on RefCOCOg). In addition, our model is more interpretable with explicitly locating the object, which is also proved by visualization experiments. We believe this framework is promising to serve as a strong baseline for referring image segmentation.

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