Heatmap Distribution Matching for Human Pose Estimation

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 35 (NeurIPS 2022) Main Conference Track

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Haoxuan Qu, Li Xu, Yujun Cai, Lin Geng Foo, Jun Liu


For tackling the task of 2D human pose estimation, the great majority of the recent methods regard this task as a heatmap estimation problem, and optimize the heatmap prediction using the Gaussian-smoothed heatmap as the optimization objective and using the pixel-wise loss (e.g. MSE) as the loss function. In this paper, we show that optimizing the heatmap prediction in such a way, the model performance of body joint localization, which is the intrinsic objective of this task, may not be consistently improved during the optimization process of the heatmap prediction. To address this problem, from a novel perspective, we propose to formulate the optimization of the heatmap prediction as a distribution matching problem between the predicted heatmap and the dot annotation of the body joint directly. By doing so, our proposed method does not need to construct the Gaussian-smoothed heatmap and can achieve a more consistent model performance improvement during the optimization of the heatmap prediction. We show the effectiveness of our proposed method through extensive experiments on the COCO dataset and the MPII dataset.