- [pdf] [supp] [arXiv]
More Photos Are All You Need: Semi-Supervised Learning for Fine-Grained Sketch Based Image Retrieval
A fundamental challenge faced by existing Fine-Grained Sketch-Based Image Retrieval (FG-SBIR) models is the data scarcity -- model performances are largely bottlenecked by the lack of sketch-photo pairs. Whilst the number of photos can be easily scaled, each corresponding sketch still needs to be individually produced. In this paper, we aim to mitigate such an upper-bound on sketch data, and study whether unlabelled photos alone (of which they are many) can be cultivated for performance gain. In particular, we introduce a novel semi-supervised framework for cross-modal retrieval that can additionally leverage large-scale unlabelled photos to account for data scarcity. At the center of our semi-supervision design is a sequential photo-to-sketch generation model that aims to generate paired sketches for unlabelled photos. Importantly, we further introduce a discriminator-guided mechanism to guide against unfaithful generation, together with a distillation loss-based regularizer to provide tolerance against noisy training samples. Last but not least, we treat generation and retrieval as two conjugate problems, where a joint learning procedure is devised for each module to mutually benefit from each other. Extensive experiments show that our semi-supervised model yields a significant performance boost over the state-of-the-art supervised alternatives, as well as existing methods that can exploit unlabelled photos for FG-SBIR.