Rubik's Cube: High-Order Channel Interactions with a Hierarchical Receptive Field

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Naishan Zheng, man zhou, Chong Zhou, Chen Change Loy


Image restoration techniques, spanning from the convolution to the transformer paradigm, have demonstrated robust spatial representation capabilities to deliver high-quality performance.Yet, many of these methods, such as convolution and the Feed Forward Network (FFN) structure of transformers, primarily leverage the basic first-order channel interactions and have not maximized the potential benefits of higher-order modeling. To address this limitation, our research dives into understanding relationships within the channel dimension and introduces a simple yet efficient, high-order channel-wise operator tailored for image restoration. Instead of merely mimicking high-order spatial interaction, our approach offers several added benefits: Efficiency: It adheres to the zero-FLOP and zero-parameter principle, using a spatial-shifting mechanism across channel-wise groups. Simplicity: It turns the favorable channel interaction and aggregation capabilities into element-wise multiplications and convolution units with $1 \times 1$ kernel. Our new formulation expands the first-order channel-wise interactions seen in previous works to arbitrary high orders, generating a hierarchical receptive field akin to a Rubik's cube through the combined action of shifting and interactions. Furthermore, our proposed Rubik's cube convolution is a flexible operator that can be incorporated into existing image restoration networks, serving as a drop-in replacement for the standard convolution unit with fewer parameters overhead. We conducted experiments across various low-level vision tasks, including image denoising, low-light image enhancement, guided image super-resolution, and image de-blurring. The results consistently demonstrate that our Rubik's cube operator enhances performance across all tasks. Code is publicly available at