Keywords: vision-language pre-training, VQA, image captioning, object detection
Abstract: Vision-language (VL) pre-training has recently received considerable attention. However, most existing end-to-end pre-training approaches either only aim to tackle VL tasks such as image-text retrieval, visual question answering (VQA) and image captioning that test high-level understanding of images, or only target region-level understanding for tasks such as phrase grounding and object detection. We present FIBER (Fusion-In-the-Backbone-based transformER), a new VL model architecture that can seamlessly handle both these types of tasks. Instead of having dedicated transformer layers for fusion after the uni-modal backbones, FIBER pushes multimodal fusion deep into the model by inserting cross-attention into the image and text backbones to better capture multimodal interactions. In addition, unlike previous work that is either only pre-trained on image-text data or on fine-grained data with box-level annotations, we present a two-stage pre-training strategy that uses both these kinds of data efficiently: (i) coarse-grained pre-training based on image-text data; followed by (ii) fine-grained pre-training based on image-text-box data. We conduct comprehensive experiments on a wide range of VL tasks, ranging from VQA, image captioning, and retrieval, to phrase grounding, referring expression comprehension, and object detection. Using deep multimodal fusion coupled with the two-stage pre-training, FIBER provides consistent performance improvements over strong baselines across all tasks, often outperforming methods using magnitudes more data. Code is released at https://github.com/microsoft/FIBER.
Supplementary Material: pdf
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