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- TL;DR: Diagnosing and reducing the seen-unseen performance gap in vision-and-language navigation
- Abstract: Vision-and-Language Navigation (VLN) requires an agent to follow natural-language instructions, explore the given environments, and reach the desired target locations. These step-by-step navigational instructions are extremely useful in navigating new environments which the agent does not know about previously. Most recent works that study VLN observe a significant performance drop when tested on unseen environments (i.e., environments not used in training), indicating that the neural agent models are highly biased towards training environments. Although this issue is considered as one of major challenges in VLN research, it is still under-studied and needs a clearer explanation. In this work, we design novel diagnosis experiments via environment re-splitting and feature replacement, looking into possible reasons of this environment bias. We observe that neither the language nor the underlying navigational graph, but the low-level visual appearance conveyed by ResNet features directly affects the agent model and contributes to this environment bias in results. According to this observation, we explore several kinds of semantic representations which contain less low-level visual information, hence the agent learned with these features could be better generalized to unseen testing environments. Without modifying the baseline agent model and its training method, our explored semantic features significantly decrease the performance gap between seen and unseen on multiple datasets (i.e., 8.6% to 0.2% on R2R, 23.9% to 0.1% on R4R, and 3.74 to 0.17 on CVDN) and achieve competitive unseen results to previous state-of-the-art models.
- Keywords: vision-and-language navigation, generalization, environment bias diagnosis