- [pdf] [supp] [arXiv]
Revisiting Token Pruning for Object Detection and Instance Segmentation
Vision Transformers (ViTs) have shown impressive performance in computer vision, but their high computational cost, quadratic in the number of tokens, limits their adoption in computation-constrained applications. However, this large number of tokens may not be necessary, as not all tokens are equally important. In this paper, we investigate token pruning to accelerate inference for object detection and instance segmentation, extending prior works from image classification. Through extensive experiments, we offer four insights for dense tasks: (i) tokens should not be completely pruned and discarded, but rather preserved in the feature maps for later use. (ii) reactivating previously pruned tokens can further enhance model performance. (iii) a dynamic pruning rate based on images is better than a fixed pruning rate. (iv) a lightweight, 2-layer MLP can effectively prune tokens, achieving accuracy comparable with complex gating networks with a simpler design. We assess the effects of these design decisions on the COCO dataset and introduce an approach that incorporates these findings, showing a reduction in performance decline from 1.5 mAP to 0.3 mAP in both boxes and masks, compared to existing token pruning methods. In relation to the dense counterpart that utilizes all tokens, our method realizes an increase in inference speed, achieving up to 34% faster performance for the entire network and 46% for the backbone. Code will be publicly available.