DR Loss: Improving Object Detection by Distributional Ranking

CVPR 2020

Authors: Qi Qian, Lei Chen, Hao Li, Rong Jin Description: Most of object detection algorithms can be categorized into two classes: two-stage detectors and one-stage detectors. Recently, many efforts have been devoted to one-stage detectors for the simple yet effective architecture. Different from two-stage detectors, one-stage detectors aim to identify foreground objects from all candidates in a single stage. This architecture is efficient but can suffer from the imbalance issue with respect to two aspects: the inter-class imbalance between the number of candidates from foreground and background classes and the intra-class imbalance in the hardness of background candidates, where only a few candidates are hard to be identified. In this work, we propose a novel distributional ranking (DR) loss to handle the challenge. For each image, we convert the classification problem to a ranking problem, which considers pairs of candidates within the image, to address the inter-class imbalance problem. Then, we push the distributions of confidence scores for foreground and background towards the decision boundary. After that, we optimize the rank of the expectations of derived distributions in lieu of original pairs. Our method not only mitigates the intra-class imbalance issue in background candidates but also improves the efficiency for the ranking algorithm. By merely replacing the focal loss in RetinaNet with the developed DR loss and applying ResNet-101 as the backbone, mAP of the single-scale test on COCO can be improved from 39.1% to 41.7% without bells and whistles, which demonstrates the effectiveness of the proposed loss function.