Combinatorial Optimization for Panoptic Segmentation: An End-to-End Trainable Approach

Ahmed Abbas, Paul Swoboda

We propose an end-to-end trainable architecture for simultaneous semantic and instance segmentation (a.k.a. panoptic segmentation) consisting of a convolutional neural network and an asymmetric multiway cut problem solver. The latter solves a combinatorial optimization problem that elegantly incorporates semantic and boundary predictions to produce a panoptic labeling. Our formulation allows to directly maximize a smooth surrogate of the panoptic quality metric by backpropagating the gradient through the optimization problem. Experimental evaluation shows improvement of end-to-end learning w.r.t. comparable approaches on Cityscapes and COCO datasets. Overall, our approach shows the utility of using combinatorial optimization in tandem with deep learning in a challenging large scale real-world problem and showcases benefits and insights into training such an architecture end-to-end.

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