$\theta$-MRF: Capturing Spatial and Semantic Structure in the Parameters for Scene Understanding

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 24 (NIPS 2011)

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Congcong Li, Ashutosh Saxena, Tsuhan Chen


For most scene understanding tasks (such as object detection or depth estimation), the classifiers need to consider contextual information in addition to the local features. We can capture such contextual information by taking as input the features/attributes from all the regions in the image. However, this contextual dependence also varies with the spatial location of the region of interest, and we therefore need a different set of parameters for each spatial location. This results in a very large number of parameters. In this work, we model the independence properties between the parameters for each location and for each task, by defining a Markov Random Field (MRF) over the parameters. In particular, two sets of parameters are encouraged to have similar values if they are spatially close or semantically close. Our method is, in principle, complementary to other ways of capturing context such as the ones that use a graphical model over the labels instead. In extensive evaluation over two different settings, of multi-class object detection and of multiple scene understanding tasks (scene categorization, depth estimation, geometric labeling), our method beats the state-of-the-art methods in all the four tasks.