CvT: Introducing Convolutions to Vision Transformers

Haiping Wu, Bin Xiao, Noel Codella, Mengchen Liu, Xiyang Dai, Lu Yuan, Lei Zhang; Proceedings of the IEEE/CVF International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV), 2021, pp. 22-31


We present in this paper a new architecture, named Convolutional vision Transformer (CvT), that improves Vision Transformer (ViT) in performance and efficiency by introducing convolutions into ViT to yield the best of both designs. This is accomplished through two primary modifications: a hierarchy of Transformers containing a new convolutional token embedding, and a convolutional Trasnsformer block leveraging a convolutional projection. These changes introduce desirable properties of convolutional neural networks (CNNs) to the ViT architecture (i.e. shift, scale, and distortion invariance) while maintaining the merits of Transformers (i.e. dynamic attention, global context, and better generalization). We validate CvT by conducting extensive experiments, showing that this approach achieves state-of-the-art performance over other Vision Transformers and ResNets on ImageNet-1k, with less parameters and lower FLOPs. In addition, performance gains are maintained when pretrained on larger datasets (e.g. ImageNet-22k) and fine-tuned to downstream tasks. Finally, our results show that the positional encoding, a crucial component in existing Vision Transformers, can be safely removed in our model, simplifying the design for higher resolution vision tasks. Code will be released at

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@InProceedings{Wu_2021_ICCV, author = {Wu, Haiping and Xiao, Bin and Codella, Noel and Liu, Mengchen and Dai, Xiyang and Yuan, Lu and Zhang, Lei}, title = {CvT: Introducing Convolutions to Vision Transformers}, booktitle = {Proceedings of the IEEE/CVF International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV)}, month = {October}, year = {2021}, pages = {22-31} }