Abstract: Recently, neural networks purely based on attention were shown to address image understanding tasks such as image classification. However, these visual transformers are pre-trained with hundreds of millions of images using an expensive infrastructure, thereby limiting their adoption by the larger community.
In this work, with an adequate training scheme, we produce a competitive convolution-free transformer by training on Imagenet only. We train it on a single computer in less than 3 days. Our reference vision transformer (86M parameters) achieves top-1 accuracy of 83.1% (single-crop evaluation) on ImageNet with no external data. We share our code and models to accelerate community advances on this line of research. Additionally, we introduce a teacher-student strategy specific to transformers. It relies on a distillation token ensuring that the student learns from the teacher through attention. We show the interest of this token-based distillation, especially when using a convnet as a teacher. This leads us to report results competitive with convnets for both Imagenet (where we obtain up to 84.4% accuracy) and when transferring to other tasks.
Authors: Hugo Touvron, Matthieu Cord, Matthijs Douze, Francisco Massa, Alexandre Sablayrolles, Hervé Jégou (Facebook)