ServiceNow Research

Reinforced Active Learning for Image Segmentation


Learning-based approaches for semantic segmentation have two inherent challenges. First, acquiring pixel-wise labels is expensive and time-consuming. Second, realistic segmentation datasets are highly unbalanced: some categories are much more abundant than others, biasing the performance to the most represented ones. In this paper, we are interested in focusing human labelling effort on a small subset of a larger pool of data, minimizing this effort while maximizing performance of a segmentation model on a hold-out set. We present a new active learning strategy for semantic segmentation based on deep reinforcement learning (RL). An agent learns a policy to select a subset of small informative image regions – opposed to entire images – to be labeled, from a pool of unlabeled data. The region selection decision is made based on predictions and uncertainties of the segmentation model being trained. Our method proposes a new modification of the deep Q-network (DQN) formulation for active learning, adapting it to the large-scale nature of semantic segmentation problems. We test the proof of concept in CamVid and provide results in the large-scale dataset Cityscapes. On Cityscapes, our deep RL region-based DQN approach requires roughly 30% less additional labeled data than our most competitive baseline to reach the same performance. Moreover, we find that our method asks for more labels of under-represented categories compared to the baselines, improving their performance and helping to mitigate class imbalance.

International Conference on Learning Representations (ICLR)
Christopher Pal
Christopher Pal
Distinguished Scientist

Distinguished Scientist at Low Data Learning located at Montreal, QC, Canada.