A Modulation Module for Multi-task Learning with Applications in Image Retrieval

Xiangyun Zhao, Haoxiang Li, Xiaohui Shen, Xiaodan Liang, Ying Wu; Proceedings of the European Conference on Computer Vision (ECCV), 2018, pp. 401-416


Multi-task learning has been widely adopted in many computer vision tasks to improve overall computation efficiency or boost the performance of individual tasks, under the assumption that those tasks are correlated and complementary to each other. However, the relationships between the tasks are complicated in practice, especially when the number of involved tasks scales up. When two tasks are of weak relevance, they may compete or even distract each other during joint training shared parameters, and as a consequence undermine the learning of all the tasks. This will raise destructive interference which decreases learning efficiency of shared parameters and lead to low quality local optimum of shared parameters. To address the this problem, we propose a general modulation module, which can be inserted into any convolutional neural network architecture, to encourage the coupling and feature sharing of relevant tasks while disentangling the learning of irrelevant tasks with minor parameters addition. Equipped with this module, gradient directions from different tasks can be enforced to be consistent for those shared parameters, which benefits multi-task joint training. The module is end-to-end learnable without ad-hoc design for specific tasks, and can naturally handle many tasks at the same time. We apply our approach on two retrieval tasks, face retrieval on the CelebA dataset and product retrieval on the UT-Zappos50K dataset, and demonstrate its advantage over other multi-task learning methods in both accuracy and storage efficiency.

Related Material

[pdf] [arXiv]
author = {Zhao, Xiangyun and Li, Haoxiang and Shen, Xiaohui and Liang, Xiaodan and Wu, Ying},
title = {A Modulation Module for Multi-task Learning with Applications in Image Retrieval},
booktitle = {Proceedings of the European Conference on Computer Vision (ECCV)},
month = {September},
year = {2018}