Confidence Propagation Cluster: Unleash Full Potential of Object Detectors

by   Yichun Shen*, et al.

It has been a long history that most object detection methods obtain objects by using the non-maximum suppression (NMS) and its improved versions like Soft-NMS to remove redundant bounding boxes. We challenge those NMS-based methods from three aspects: 1) The bounding box with highest confidence value may not be the true positive having the biggest overlap with the ground-truth box. 2) Not only suppression is required for redundant boxes, but also confidence enhancement is needed for those true positives. 3) Sorting candidate boxes by confidence values is not necessary so that full parallelism is achievable. In this paper, inspired by belief propagation (BP), we propose the Confidence Propagation Cluster (CP-Cluster) to replace NMS-based methods, which is fully parallelizable as well as better in accuracy. In CP-Cluster, we borrow the message passing mechanism from BP to penalize redundant boxes and enhance true positives simultaneously in an iterative way until convergence. We verified the effectiveness of CP-Cluster by applying it to various mainstream detectors such as FasterRCNN, SSD, FCOS, YOLOv3, YOLOv5, Centernet etc. Experiments on MS COCO show that our plug and play method, without retraining detectors, is able to steadily improve average mAP of all those state-of-the-art models with a clear margin from 0.2 to 1.9 respectively when compared with NMS-based methods. Source code is available at


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