Prime Sample Attention in Object Detection

CVPR 2020

Authors: Yuhang Cao, Kai Chen, Chen Change Loy, Dahua Lin Description: It is a common paradigm in object detection frameworks to treat all samples equally and target at maximizing the performance on average. In this work, we revisit this paradigm through a careful study on how different samples contribute to the overall performance measured in terms of mAP. Our study suggests that the samples in each mini-batch are neither independent nor equally important, and therefore a better classifier on average does not necessarily result in higher mAP. Motivated by this study, we propose the notion of Prime Samples, those that play a key role in driving the detection performance. We further develop a simple yet effective sampling and learning strategy called PrIme Sample Attention (PISA) that directs the focus of the training process towards such samples. Our experiments demonstrate that it is often more effective to focus on prime samples than hard samples when training a detector. Particularly, on the MSCOCO dataset, PISA outperforms the random sampling baseline and hard mining schemes, \eg~OHEM and Focal Loss, consistently by around 2\% on both single-stage and two-stage detectors, even with a strong backbone ResNeXt-101. Code is available at: \url{}.