Factors of Influence for Transfer Learning across Diverse Appearance Domains and Task Types

03/24/2021
by   Thomas Mensink, et al.
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Transfer learning enables to re-use knowledge learned on a source task to help learning a target task. A simple form of transfer learning is common in current state-of-the-art computer vision models, i.e. pre-training a model for image classification on the ILSVRC dataset, and then fine-tune on any target task. However, previous systematic studies of transfer learning have been limited and the circumstances in which it is expected to work are not fully understood. In this paper we carry out an extensive experimental exploration of transfer learning across vastly different image domains (consumer photos, autonomous driving, aerial imagery, underwater, indoor scenes, synthetic, close-ups) and task types (semantic segmentation, object detection, depth estimation, keypoint detection). Importantly, these are all complex, structured output tasks types relevant to modern computer vision applications. In total we carry out over 1200 transfer experiments, including many where the source and target come from different image domains, task types, or both. We systematically analyze these experiments to understand the impact of image domain, task type, and dataset size on transfer learning performance. Our study leads to several insights and concrete recommendations for practitioners.

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